Have you noticed the love seniors have for candy? Once old age sets in, most seniors develop a thing for sweet things.
My grandma always seems to have packs of old lady candy at the bottom of her handbag. Some of her “treats” are the yuckiest I have ever tasted.
If you are ready to save your elderly loved one from ingesting offensive garbage candy, dive in and ill help you learn about some of the best vintage candy you can still find in your local shops.
Before we get started, let’s first find out why seniors develop a sweet tooth.
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Why Do Seniors Develop a Sweet Tooth?
Even my grandma never saw herself snacking on candy in old age. She is a retired dentist and often had a problem with our intake of sweets during Halloween.
So, what changed?
How she today unapologetically eats snicker bars is a phenomenon I will never fully understand.
Here are 2 main reasons seniors crave candy in later years.
- Changing Taste Buds
Changes in dietary preferences are often linked to psychological changes in old age. As you advance in age and your body changes, so does your ability to appreciate different flavors.
A young adult has anything between 10,000 and 15, 000 taste buds. This makes it easy to detect various tastes such as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Once you are 70 years and above, the number of taste buds you have drastically decreases.
According to scientists, young adults have about 60% more taste buds than seniors. This makes older people have a hard time detecting flavors. In return, they find their food boring or bland.
- Physical Concerns
There is more to what causes candy cravings than just psychological changes. Seniors also suffer from a diminishing sense of smell because they have lesser nerve endings in the nose. This blunts not just their sense of smell but also their ability to taste.
Moreover, old age often causes a drastic drop in saliva production. This affects the appetite and food preferences of a person.
Why Do Seniors Crave Candy?
Sweets are sugar-heavy foods. Because of the diminishing sense of taste, seniors tend to gravitate towards sweeter foods that their taste buds can recognize. After all, most of the regular food they eat may taste flat and flavorless.
Sugar cravings may also be a sign of an inadequate diet. The body needs plenty of carbohydrates to generate essential energy. When an older person does not get plenty of carbs, the body begins to crave candy and sweet foods like chocolate.
How to Manage Candy Cravings
Too much of something is poisonous. Limiting consumption of candy is part of ensuring that your elderly loved one maintains good overall health. In some instances, seniors may require help to manage their candy cravings.
As we discussed earlier, older people have sweet cravings because of both psychological and changes and physical concerns. The easiest way to deal with the urge to eat sugary foods is to satisfy it with healthy foods instead of sweets.
Some of the alternatives you have are:-
- Fruit salads
- Fruit and cottage cheese
- Sweetened rice cakes
- Plain rice cakes drizzled with honey
- Unsweetened granola with fresh fruits
- Veggies dipped in nut butter
10 Best Old-Time Candy
During the Great Depression, candy was seen as a source of food. Candy makers experimented with many sweet confections thanks to the booming candy industry. Some classic American candies have passed the test of time and are still available in local stores.
We have rounded up 10 of the best old people sweets that are both yummy and healthy if eaten in moderation.
Dum-dums come in 16 flavors. From cream soda to the popular mystery flavor, it’s hard to lack something that truly puts your taste buds to the test. Today, these little lollipops are just as yummy as they were in 1924 when they were first introduced to the market.
A good number of grannies have dum-dums in their candy jars. You will also find this type of candy in restaurants where you can pick up a few on your way out.
- Butterscotch Hard Candy
Butterscotch brags as one of the timeless candy flavors. These sweets that are individually wrapped in bright yellow cellophane were a common sight in households since the 1900s. What sets the candy apart is its perfect, creamy finish. We all know that this is something a good number of sweet flavors cannot claim.
- Brach’s Party Mix
It’s hard to talk about candy flavors seniors enjoy without mentioning the Brach’s Party mix. The candy is individually wrapped in cinnamon, butterscotch, peppermint, spearmint, or strawberry flavors. In short, your granny can have a few different flavors to quench her candy cravings.
- Tootsie Rolls
Tootsie Rolls are some of the most long-standing sweets in the market. They are made in the U.S and have remained a darling to many in more than 100 years. These taffy rolls with a chocolate flavor are available in orange, white, or brown wrappings.
If you desire to give your elderly loved one a sweetness dose, I suggest that you get a pack of tootsie rolls.
Even Gen Xers have a thing for gumdrops. They are sweet, chewy, colorful, and available in a whole array of great flavors. Gumdrops are cone-shaped candy invented in the 1800s. While they are today available in lemon, cherry, and orange flavors, the original sweets were flavored with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and anise.
- Mary Jane
Mary Jane confectioneries are bite-sized peanut butter and molasses sweets. Like a decent number of candies we have already mentioned, Mary Jane sweets have been around for over 100 years. The sweets are perfect for seniors because they are egg-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free. From where we stand, they are one of the healthiest candy options in the current market.
Trust me; if chuckles can’t quench your candy craving, then possibly nothing can. Chuckles are jelly sweets coated with sugar and are a darling to many. They came into the scene in 1921 and are today available in a range of flavors, including licorice, orange, lime, and cherry.
- Abba Zaba Bars
While younger people may not know about the Abba Zaba bars, these are candy bars that our grannies would be happy to talk about for hours. The Abba Zaba bars contain two stretchy and sticky ingredients—taffy and peanut butter. Most seniors love them because you can freeze the bars and squeeze out the peanut butter.
If your elderly loved one loves chewing gum, consider buying a box of Chiclets. They are widely available, not to mention that you can choose from a whole array of flavors. Chewing gums are great for seniors seeking to cut down on their candy intake. Chiclets are better than charm blow pops, which tend to have higher carbohydrates, calories, and fats.
- Junior Mints
Currently, about 15 million junior mints are made each day. What most people don’t know is that these tiny sweets were first introduced to the market in 1949.
They are a blend of mint and chocolate, and their divine taste makes them one of the most popular oldie candy flavors to date. They are great snacks for people of all ages thanks to their fresh and minty middle part with dark chocolate coating.
Best Candy for People with Diabetes
The majority of fun-size sweets have about 15 grams of carbohydrates. This is equivalent to one full carbohydrate serving. Usually, 15 grams of carbohydrates can raise low blood sugar levels without causing a crash.
Whether you have diabetes or not, a small treat can help soothe candy cravings without leaving you with a sugar crash. If you have a sweet tooth, the most important thing to do is measure portions of sugar and perhaps stick to fun-size candy portions.
Let’s dive right in and learn about some of the best miniature candies for people with diabetes.
- Peanut M&M’s
Candies that contain nuts are often rich in calories. However, compared to sweet treats, candies with nuts tend to have better blood sugar responses. One fun size of Peanut M&M’s has a 10.5g carbohydrate count.
These sweets are pure sugar and ideal for people with diabetes who suffer from low blood sugar. If you need to take this kind of candy, just don’t eat it regularly. Each Twizzler packs your body with 18g of carbohydrates.
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
This type of candy is made from peanuts and milk chocolate. It offers a blend of protein, fiber, and fat. 1 snack size of Reese’s peanut butter cup has a carbohydrate count of about 12g.
We all love skittles because of their divine taste. While they are pretty sugary, they are perfect for treating low blood sugar in an instant. In fact, skittles get your blood sugar to higher levels faster than chocolate bars. Because it contains minimal fat and no protein, the sugar gets to your bloodstream faster. Skittles have a 14-gram carbohydrate count.
This kind of candy is also ideal for diabetics, and it offers both protein and fiber. Each sweet offer a 16.5-gram carbohydrate count and can help to slow down your body’s process of digesting food. A few snickers a day can help keep you fuller for longer.
Common Myths about Sugar-Free Candy
Sugar-free candy can give seniors with a sweet tooth an outrightly false sense of security. A lot of people believe that such sweets are healthier and have no impact on their health.
Don’t be fooled!
Candy, sugar-free, or not will always have some levels of calories, carbohydrates, and fat. While sugar-free sweets have slightly lower calories and carbs than regular candy, this does not mean you are free to overdo your intake. This is especially true for those who have advanced in age.
Let’s debunk a few common myths about sugar-free sweets.
- It’s okay to have as many sugar-free sweets as you want
Again, even sugar-free candy contains carbohydrates and significant amounts of both fats and calories. This makes it crucial to pay close attention to your portions or serving sizes.
- Sugar-free candy is healthy
This is yet another widespread myth that ought to be trashed. Some of the basic examples of “healthy” foods are vegetables, whole grain, beans, and fruits.
While it makes sense to switch to sugar-free sweets if you are unable to cut back on your candy intake, the need to stick to the recommended carbohydrate portions must not be underestimated.
- Having too much sugar-free candy has no side effects
This is not true. Sugar alcohols are notorious for causing adverse gastrointestinal symptoms. This includes gas, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. The need to stick to the recommended serving sizes can again not be emphasized enough.
Moreover, if your candy portions are not considered, you risk suffering from the effects of increased blood sugar.
- Older adults don’t like hard candy
Again, this is not true. While older people may not like hard food, they love hard candy. This is because a decent number of them suffer from dry mouth, caused by lots of medications or just old age.
Hard candy helps to keep oral tissues moist. Like sugarless lozenges, they moisten oral tissues and, by extension, help to prevent cavities.
- Sugar-free sweets have no health benefits
While we cannot dispute that too much candy, sugar-free or regular, can cause health concerns, it is not true to claim that such confectioneries have no health benefits.
Here are some of the perks of choosing sugar-free candy:-
- Does not drastically increase blood sugar when eaten in moderation
- Contains fewer carbs and added sugar
- Packs your body with lesser calories compared to regular candy
Are Candies Harmful To Seniors?
Here’s the deal, the majority of sweets are rich in fat and calories. This makes it vital for the general population to consume candies in moderation.
Unless a senior has other underlying issues like diabetes that make sugars harmful, it’s perfectly okay to have a few pieces of candy from time to time. With age, fat reserves shrink, so developing a sweet tooth is not a major problem. This is more so the case for elders who are not considered overweight.
In case an elder has diabetes this does not always mean they cannot enjoy a little sweetness. In this case, you simply need to ensure the sweetness does not come directly from sugar.
There are numerous sugar-free products you can use to add sweetness to food without endangering a patient. Consult with your doctor for more personalized guidance.
How Much candy is Too Much?
The correct answer to this question will depend on several things. First, your body may not have the capacity to process huge amounts of sugar if you have diabetes. It is also crucial to take candy in moderation if you have pre-diabetes, which causes your blood sugar levels to be higher than normal.
If you have neither diabetes nor pre-diabetes, this means your body can metabolize sugar and absorb it. Physically active seniors who don’t have diabetes can process large amounts of sugar without a problem. This makes it pointless to overly limit their candy intake.
Can Diabetics Eat Candy With Or Without Sugar?
According to dieticians, your diet should consist of 90% healthy foods like beans, fish, vegetables, poultry, and fruits. This is irrespective of whether you have diabetes and other health conditions or not. In other words, you have a 10% wiggle room for treats like candy and sweets.
Enjoying your food has emotional, social, and physical health perks. However, you must not underestimate the fact that treats affect your blood sugar. If you have diabetes, you must practice portion control and only take sugar in moderation.
Even if you have diabetes, it is perfectly okay to eat treats. In this case, however, you must account for the calorie and carbohydrate content each treat provides. This is regardless of whether it’s sugar-free or not.
According to the American Heart Association, women should have a maximum of 25 grams of added sugar daily. This is about 6 teaspoons of sugar or 100 calories. On the other hand, men should not exceed 36 grams of sugar daily. This amounts to 150 calories or about 9 teaspoons of sugar.
Unless a physician prescribes special dietary restrictions, let seniors indulge. Older people who are not battling diabetes and other chronic ailments are perfectly fine enjoying a frequent dosage of candy and sweet desserts.
The idea is to allow our loved ones to indulge in foods they love as long as they don’t cause them health issues. In some cases, moderated portions of old-time candy can improve one’s energy levels and overall quality of life.
If I’m blessed to grow as old as my grandma, I hope my caregivers allow me to eat everything that is not a direct threat to my health —including candy. At 80 and above, I believe I will have earned the right to eat anything I enjoy.
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