With the beauty of the changing leaves, the comfortable weather and the anticipation of the holiday season, my kids start deciding on the perfect Halloween costume. Meanwhile, I start to think of ways to incorporate healthy Halloween treats to the festivities.
What I dislike is this is also the time of year where the candy bowl begins to overflow. From now until Easter, each month seems to bring a new event to add to the sweet treats. Although many people are now offering non-food ‘treats’ to the little goblins, most kids come back from a night of trick-or-treat with enough candy to last them the entire year.
How to Balance a Healthy Halloween
1. If Trick-or-Treat is Not Your Thing, Plan a Costume Party!
Fun fall snacks like popcorn and dried cranberries, apples, and spooky themed snacks can be served while kids are enjoying activities like pumpkin painting and pin the wart on the witch. Roasting pumpkin seeds and trying different toppings (sweet, salty, savory) is always fun and are great leftover for snacks and salads. Baked or canned pumpkin with yogurt and cinnamon makes a delicious smoothie or sundae.
2. Find Ways to Curb the Candy Crush.
Make a conscious choice about what you choose to hand out from your own house. Non-food treats such as stickers and temporary tattoos are an option and would be appreciated by those kids with limitations on the foods they can eat. If you go the food route, choose something that you would serve as a snack in your home – trail mix, raisins/craisins, pretzels, or small boxes of 100% juice will at least not add to the candy bowl if there are leftovers when you turn off the porch light.
3. Make Sure to Eat a Good Meal Before Hand.
Not only will this keep your little monster who is really just dressed as one from not behaving like one, but it may also help cut down on sneaking treats along the way. Agree ahead of time on how many pieces of candy they can choose from their loot once they get home.
4. Have Your Kids Choose Their Favorite Healthy Halloween Candies and Donate the Rest.
Our local dentist will take trade in candy for money or small prizes and send it to soldiers. Another idea is to use it for crafts – it is tougher to eat the candy once it is glued to a poster board. Take advantage of the learning opportunity to have kids count and sort into colors, shapes, and sizes. Use the fun fall colors to make a Thanksgiving masterpiece, and save the rest to use as decorations on your winter gingerbread house.
5. Keep an Eye on the Amount of Candy Your Child Consumes After Halloween.
Although I don’t have a specific rule about how many pieces of candy my kids can have each day, it is typically only one, and we try to work it into snack time or meal time. That way a piece of chocolate along with her apple slices seems like a special treat instead of a strict limit on sugar. Keeping the candy bowl out of sight also helps limit little hands (and the not so little ones) from continuous and mindless munching.
6. Finally, Get Out and Enjoy a Healthy Halloween!
Take a walk before the big night to explore the fall colors and decorations. Head back out in the days after Halloween to greet your neighbors before the cold weather comes. A little bump in activity can help to moderate the effects of candy calories. With a little planning ahead, these tricks on treats can make Halloween not quite so scary!
Originally Published: October 2021. Revised: August 2022.