Tricks and Tips for a Healthier Halloween

Who doesn’t love Halloween with all the costumes, decorations, and treats? The sheer excitement and anticipation that comes along with the holiday are contagious amongst all ages. But all that trick or tricking comes with a price.

A frightful fact is that the average child accumulates between 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night. Yikes! With a little bit of planning, this historically sugar-laden evening can be a great time to teach kids about healthy behaviors by stressing moderation and balance. Read on for some quick suggestions for a healthier Halloween.

  1. Fill up with healthy food pre-Trick or Treating!
    • Halloween Eve is not conducive to preparing a meal or even sitting down to dinner when Trick or Treaters are hitting the doorbell every 5 minutes. Halloween is on a Monday night this year. Try to plan ahead with a quick, healthy meal that does not involve ordering out or picking up fast food! A pot of turkey chili simmering on the stove or a slow cooker filled with a heartwarming vegetable soup fits the bill!
  2. Keep the kids moving.
    • Most of the time we see kids walking from house to house on Halloween. Physical activity is a beautiful thing. However, younger children may be pushed in strollers or pulled in wagons. While you need to keep your family’s needs in mind, Trick or Treating should be a physically active evening! Keep track of your steps with a smart watch or fitness tracker.
  3. Set an example.
    • When it is time to purchase Halloween goodies, think about what you would want your own kids to come home with. We are long past the expectation that people will offer fresh fruit or healthy baked goods. However, a bag of pretzels, a granola bar, light popcorn, peanut butter crackers or a commercially packaged trail mix are all great options. Kids will enjoy these items for a snack or perhaps part of their lunch. Or bypass food all together and hand out inexpensive school supplies, glow sticks, or stickers. This is a time you can be creative!
  4. Sort and disperse.
    • Have your child go through their candy when they get home. Sort out what they like and what they are willing to part with, and under what conditions. For example, your child might “trade” some of their candy for something they value, like a gift card or an outing with friends or family.
    • Candy can be donated – check with local churches, schools, or organizations – or look online to find candy donation drop off sites.
    • Once a predetermined number of treats have been selected, decide with your children the best way they might enjoy their stash. For example, your child might have a piece of candy daily in their lunch, or for an after-school snack.
  5. Keep it out of sight: Say NO to mindless eating.
    • This advice is two-fold. Adults may be tempted when candy is in the house. When buying Halloween candy, pick up your least favorite brand to reduce the urge to indulge.
    • When candy is on the kitchen counter in clear view, it is easy to indulge in something sweet instead of a healthier option. Keep candy in the pantry, the freezer or in a cabinet that is not easily accessed. Stick to the predetermined plan as to when and how much your children might enjoy at one time.
  6. Double up.
    • Pair a Halloween treat with something healthy. Offer a glass of milk, a piece of fruit or some veggies with dip along with that small piece of candy. Remember portion control is key!
    • Repurpose some of the candy and incorporate into healthier recipes. Perhaps break up a small candy bar and add to some yogurt. Make a zucchini bread and mix in small pieces of chocolate. Melt down chocolate and make chocolate covered strawberries or bananas. When in doubt, check out Pinterest ideas as to how to use up that extra candy!

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