All Hallows’ Eve is supposed to be fun—and scary. But not because of all the artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives found in typical Halloween treats.
For decades, one of the scariest things about Halloween was all the scarily unhealthy candies out there. Why? Too much sugar can make a trick-or-treater more susceptible to colds and the flu due to compromised immune systems. Not to mention, high sugar consumption has also been linked to other health concerns such as obesity and diabetes.
What’s a self-respecting trick-or-treater to do in the face of such temptation? Since the goal of most kids is to get the maximum amount of candy they can, help them to enjoy the holiday without it being all about the sugary loot.
Easy Tricks for Halloween Nutrition
Eat a Real Meal First
Serve a healthy and filling meal before trick-or-treating begins. Kids will be less likely to binge on candy with a full stomach. Serve a warm, comforting food such as chili, soup, or stew before heading out for the evening.
Put a Limit on the Haul
To cut down on excess amounts of candy, limit the number of houses your child visits. Consider reducing the size of the bag your child can use for trick-or-treating. Once it’s full, put it out of reach at home.
Munch in Moderation
Set a limit to how many treats the kids can enjoy, and always make sure they eat only a small amount along with something healthy—like an apple. Have them eat the fruit first, so they’ll be less hungry for the treat.
Offer Healthy Options
If you’re hosting a Halloween party, don’t put out bowls of candy—that’s too tempting. Instead fill decorative trays with these healthier options: individually wrapped packages of granola bars, dried fruit, fruit leather, fruit ropes, string cheese, whole-grain pretzels, baked chips, and nuts. Roasted pumpkin seeds offer something crunchy to nibble on, and popcorn balls made with nut butter and sweetened with honey, maple syrup, or raisins are a tasty—and still sweet—offering. For something to drink, serve individual-sized boxes of fruit juice with no added sugar.
When trick-or-treaters come knocking, offer them non-food items. Fun suggestions include sparkly pencils and erasers, Halloween-themed bookmarks, sugar-free gum sweetened with stevia, inexpensive costume jewelry, stickers, funny glasses, pages from coloring books, mini magnifying glasses, toothbrushes, jump ropes, and balls.
Consider Transmission-Free Meals
If you’re worried about transmitting viruses, germs, or allergens to guests, the CDC recommends avoiding a buffet-like meal and asking guests to bring their own holiday snack instead. This limits sharing, enables you to cook only what you want, and also prevents the spread of harmful bacteria or ingredients.
Remember the ABCs for a Healthy Halloween
With all the busy-ness of Halloween, it can be hard to remember all the nutritional and safety tips on this list. To make it easier, here are three ways to keep your wits about you.
Avoid Sugar-Filled Candy
Offer non-candy treats, such as Halloween-themed pencils and eras-ers. Give trick-or-treaters a reason to be physically active by handing out sidewalk chalk, jump ropes or hackie sacks.
Believe in All-Natural Treats
If you must deliver the goodies, buy all-natural treats, such as or-ganic lollipops or pre-packed fruits and veggies.Your local organic or natural food store has plenty of options. If it is chocolate you crave, consider organic dark chocolates. After all, dark chocolate has many health benefits.
Use the occasion to cultivate a healthier and more mindful attitude. While mindfulness will allow you to think more about what your family is eating, it will also help you think more consciously about preventing germ transmission.