Nick Blackmer is a librarian, fact-checker, and researcher with more than 20 years’ experience in consumer-oriented health and wellness content.
Verywell Health / Zoe Hansen
Halloween candy season is ramping up and sugary treats are available everywhere. Eating a few pieces of candy might not make a difference, but overindulging could lead to a host of mood and behavioral disruptions.
Although candy is often associated with a sugar rush, experts say that a “sugar crash”—or hypoglycemia—is more concerning.
The body responds to sugar intake by releasing insulin, a hormone that pulls blood sugar (glucose) into cells to be used for energy and helps manage blood sugar levels. Too much insulin could cause blood sugar levels to drop or “crash,” leading to symptoms like shakiness, anxiety, sleepiness, headaches, and more.
This stress response can make people feel edgy and irritable, according to Lina Begdache, PhD, RDN, CDN. While people might eat more sugary foods to compensate for these feelings, it will lead to another sugar crash, creating a vicious cycle.
Consuming excessive sugar can overstimulate the brain’s reward system, potentially rewiring the brain circuits that are involved in appetite regulation.
“The more we consume sugar, the more we become addicted to it,” Begdache said. While children are unlikely to develop a sugar dependence from Halloween night alone, eating too much sugary food on a regular basis would cause the brain to build up a tolerance. Over time, they might need to consume more sugar to feel the same boost.
Begdache added that kids might forego healthier foods once they become addicted to sugar, which might eventually harm their brain development.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily added sugar intake to about six teaspoons for women and children, and nine teaspoons for men. In terms of Halloween candy, that’s the equivalent of about three fun-sized Snickers bars for women and children and four for men.
You don’t have to avoid trick-or-treating altogether on Halloween, but there are a few ways to reduce the chance of having a sugar crash.
Begdache recommends eating a balanced, nutrient-dense meal before heading out for the big night.
“Once you add more fiber, fat, and protein to the stomach, then this is going to slow down the absorption of simple sugar,” she said. Having a meal before indulging in sweets could keep blood sugar levels from dropping too quickly.
It’s also important to limit how much sugar kids consume because they might struggle to fall asleep at night. Studies have shown that eating added sugar throughout the day can disrupt sleep quality, possibly due to the “roller coaster effect” caused by insulin as it works to bring glucose levels back to a normal range. This rise and fall in glucose could make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
“When we don’t have a good quality of sleep, then we’re more likely to be eating more sugary stuff the next day,” Begdache said.
But kids aren’t the only ones bombarded with sugar in late October. Bowls of free candy are often available in homes and offices around the Halloween season.
“That mindless eating moment really can happen fast,” Grace Derocha, MBA, RD, a certified diabetes care and education specialist and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Verywell.
Derocha said both kids and adults can create ground rules on how much candy they can consume in a day. She suggested letting kids pick out three pieces of candy that they can eat anytime they want during the day.
“I want them to know that they can have more than one and it is a treat,” Derocha said.
She added that deciding when to eat the candy—even if it’s during breakfast time—allows kids to feel like they’re in control and gives them an opportunity to learn how their body feels after eating candy.
“We want to teach them how to have a good relationship with food, with treats, and with their own body,” Derocha said.

Anyone can experience a blood sugar crash, but it’s more common in people with diabetes, whose bodies may not produce enough or any insulin.
Mantantzis K, Schlaghecken F, Sünram-Lea SI, Maylor EA. Sugar rush or sugar crash? A meta-analysis of carbohydrate effects on moodNeurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019;101:45-67. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.03.016
American Diabetes Association. Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).
American Heart Association. Added sugars.
Snickers. SNICKERS fun size chocolate candy bars, 18.71 oz.
Alahmary SA, Alduhaylib SA, Alkawii HA, et al. Relationship between added sugar intake and sleep quality among university students: a cross-sectional study. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2022;16(1):122-129. doi:10.1177/1559827619870476

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