By: Dr. Kristin Allison

Healthy Eating Trick-or-Treating?

Keeping health in Halloween can be challenging when it has typically been associated with lots of candy. Try seeing Halloween from a new perspective to keep the fun in it without excessive calories and sugar. Start by not buying Halloween candy early even though the stores and ads suggest otherwise. You do not want to have the temptation of an enormous candy supply in your house! Focus first on fall events to get your family active. Plan apple picking, hayrides, building a scarecrow, or raking leaves to jump in. As you get closer to Halloween, decorate your house and choose costumes. Shift your family’s attention to pumpkin carving contests or maybe scary movies and haunted houses instead of just candy.

In addition to not buying Halloween candy early and not buying your favorite kind, here are some other tips:

  • Go with a trend to also give out non-candy items, such as small toys, stickers or pencils. Offer some healthier food options such as sealed packages of nuts (with a peanut-free alternative for allergies) or dried fruit, whole grain crackers or pretzels (still carbohydrates but less added sugar). Some parents may thank you, and your neighbors may even join in next year. Small new traditions can make a difference in the fight against childhood obesity.
  • Trick-or-treating is a great way to get out and walk around, but have your family fuel up first with a healthy snack or meal. You will be less tempted to dip into the candy supply along the way if you aren‘t hungry. (Also, remind your kids to wait until parents have completed a safety check.)
  • Once at home, one option is to allow your kids to trade in some of their candy for a larger prize. You might let them pick out an appropriate amount of candy to keep. Then give the leftovers away at work or group event or, even better, throw it away. Keep the selected candy out of sight in a high cabinet instead of on the kitchen counter with easy access by adults as well. Portion each child’s candy for the days ahead and store it in a bag labeled with their name. This can help teach moderation instead of gorging on large amounts of candy. Kids may also lose interest and forget about it before the next holiday arrives!
  • A final suggestion is to avoid the after Halloween candy sales. Even a cheap price is not worth the cost of calories and sugar. Helping your entire family eat healthy can pay off at the upcoming doctors’ visits and dental checkups!

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