Know what really scares me about Halloween? It’s not the zombies and vampires. It’s the candy. That’s right, I’ll say it. Even as a candy lover myself, the idea of my kids bringing home piles and piles of sticky, sweet candy makes my skin crawl. Between school, church and neighborhood parties AND trick-or-treating, there’s way too much candy and other sugary treats. As a family we eat healthy most of the time with the occasional indulgence, so I’m not completely opposed to a few treats on Halloween. However, I also feel like we go too far and overload on the sugar. It’s not healthy for us as grownups, and it certainly isn’t healthy for our children.
So what is a parent to do? Do I take all the candy away? Let them eat as much as they want for one day and toss the rest? Spread it out over the period of a few weeks? What is the right thing? Well, that’s up to you and what you feel is best for your family.
I did a little digging around, along with some help from nutritioninst Kate Geagan, to come up with a list of 10 tips n’ tricks for a healthier Halloween, including plenty of ideas and alternatives to sugary treats.
10 Tips n’ Tricks For a Healthier Halloween 1 of 12
The scary truth. 2 of 12
The National Retail Federation says Americans will spend $2.08 billion on candy this year. (Source) BILLION! As horrible as that sounds, think about this: the average American child will collect (and most likely consume) about 3,500- 7,000 calories of candy. Yikes! That doesn't include donuts, cupcakes, and other treats.
Photo credit: Design Mom
Trick #1: Treat it as a holiday 3 of 12
-Teach your kids that Halloween is one day, not a Treat-A-Palooza that goes on for days on end.
-Set boundaries so your kids know what to expect. For example, tell them it's one day where they can enjoy a lot more candy than usual, but they aren't allowed to stash piles of candy away.
-Relax, and let them splurge a little on their favorites.
Photo source: Lindsey Johnson
Trick #2: Fill up on the good stuff 4 of 12
Kate Geagan says, "Blood sugar swings from a day fueled by candy, and highly refined treats can turn small children into little monsters. The best way to buffer this is to include high-protein foods at meals and snacks on Halloween day, such as hard boiled eggs, grilled tofu, hummus, Greek yogurt, organic turkey slices, or chicken kabobs. Also, pack a serving of on-the-go organic fruits or veggies." Kate suggests her favorite Earth's Best Organic Fruit and Veggie Pouch Purees as something that's easy to stash away and pull out for some portable nutrition on the Big Day. Before you go trick-or-treating, fill them up with a healthy dinner first so real food isn't crowded out by candy and other treats.
Lunch menu (plus two more menu ideas!) and photo source: Noshon.It
Trick #3: Make Boo-tiful memories 5 of 12
Kids love the magic of Halloween. Instead of emphasizing sugary treats, focus on fun activities to get their bodies and minds moving.
-Visit a pumpkin patch, kid-friendly spook alley or haunted house.
-Hold a scary-story writing contest.
-Create Halloween masks -have a Halloween dance party.
-Organize a costume parade with friends and neighbors.
-Bob for apples.
Photo and idea source: A Real-Life Housewife
Trick #4: Keep Treats a Healthy Color 6 of 12
Try to stick to treats that use naturally occurring pigments from fruits and vegetables (like annatto, beet juice, carrot, and spinach) Stay away from scary artificial colors, including Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, and Blue 2. These petroleum-based food dyes have been banned in Europe and must carry a warning label. Eek! (Source)
Photo source: Design Mom
Trick #5: Avoid Scary Sugars 7 of 12
Artificial sweeteners and highly refined sugars are just as scary as artificial colors and flavors.
What You Can Do:
-Read labels. Look for naturally occurring sweeteners like dried fruit, honey, concentrated fruit juice and organic, fair-trade sugars.
-Keep a Halloween treat bowl filled with healthy treats like Earth's Best Apple Sauces, whole grain cereal bars, Ella's Kitchen Nibbly Fingers, single-serving packets of popcorn and whole-grain crackers, and all-natural fruit leathers.
Trick #6: Skip The Soda 8 of 12
It's so easy to consume vast amounts of sugar simply by drinking it. Swap out unhealthy, sugary sodas and artificially flavored fruit drinks for 100% juices, milk, and water. Our family really likes coconut water juice boxes as well as other 100% juices like those from Earth's Best, Honest Kids, and Hansen's Junior Juice. Of course, there's apple cider, everyone's favorite Halloween beverage. Just make sure it's 100% juice and organic if possible. We buy fresh apple cider from a local farm stand and nothing from the grocery store can top it!
Trick #7: Look for Fair-Trade Candy 9 of 12
Kate also suggests fair-trade chocolate whenever possible. Chocolate that's fair trade is grown in areas that are rainforest-rich, conservation and sound management is a healthier and greener choice. "Third-Party certification, such as fair trade, organic or Rainforest Alliance Certified, ensure your chocolate is more eco-friendly by a wider margin than conventional chocolate," Kate says. "To reap the true health benefits of chocolate, choose some that contains at least 70% cocao. This is perhaps the 'healthiest' of all the choices given that dark chocolate at least provides some cardiovascular benefits, especially in a modest 1 oz. portion." Choose candy with ingredients you can actually pronounce and doesn't contain fillers, waxes, trans-fats, and other unhealthy ingredients. Need ideas for natural candy options for your little goblins? Check out Natural Candy Store. They've got you covered.
Photo source: Design Mom
Trick #8: Spread It Out 10 of 12
Your mom probably told you not to eat all your candy at once or you'd get a belly ache. But really, don't eat it all at once! Spread it out. Use leftover candy to create a healthy trail mix: dice leftover Halloween chocolate or candy into bite size pieces, combine with a whole-grain pretzels, popcorn, cereal, crackers, raw or toasted nuts and pumpkin seeds.
Photo and recipe source: Cassie Craves
Trick #9: Hand Out Non-Candy Treats 11 of 12
Sure, you can't prevent the overload of candy, but you can sure try! Kids love stickers, small toys, glow sticks, pencils, spider rings, and other small non-treat trinkets just as much as they love candy.
Find out how to make these cute Halloween Joke Toppers on 30 Handmade Days
Trick #10: What to Do with the Leftover Candy 12 of 12
Inevitably, even if your kids eat as much candy as they want on Halloween, there will still be a pile of candy leftover. So, you've got some choices. Spread it out, like I mentioned in Trick #7, or follow these other ways for dealing with all that candy.
-Donate it to a shelter
-Send it to the troops
-Take it to work
-Trade your kids for something better and throw it away
-Craft with it. (Thanksgiving and Christmas are just a few weeks away!)
-For more ideas, read my full list here.
Image source: Design Mom