It’s that time of year when little ghosts and goblins come knocking on the door, holding pillowcases open wide and expecting to bring home a haul of Halloween candy. As parents, we tend to feel guilty about handing out dozens of candy bars to our neighbors and allowing our kids to gobble down sugar-laden snacks of their own, and with good reason (but take extra care for the kids with allergies with your Teal Pumpkins!)
With childhood obesity a national epidemic and Type II diabetes on the rise, Halloween candy can be scary. According to the CDC, 12.7 million children in the US are obese. And according to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes diagnoses are on the rise, while diabetes continues to be the seventh leading cause of death in the US. But don’t let candy scare all of the fun out of trick-or-treating.
Here’s a healthier way to celebrate that everyone can feel good about.
Ditch the candy bars for some healthier alternatives. Some great, hand-held ideas are:
- Bags of pretzels
- Popcorn balls
- Bags of peanuts (allergy alert!)
- Animal crackers
- Peanut butter or cheddar sandwich crackers (allergy alert!)
- Graham crackers
- Trail mix (allergy alert!)
- Granola bars
- Raisins and/or chocolate-covered raisins
- Single serve bags of goldfish crackers
Don’t be fooled by the mini-candy bar: the calories and sugar can add up quickly-four “bite-sized” chocolate bars contain over 300 calories and copious amounts of sugar.
Head the post-Trick-or-Treat candy splurge off at the pass by serving up some filling menu items for dinner before the kids head out. For example, turn whole-wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce into “blood and brains,” or quinoa and lentils into “larvae and maggots.” Help your kids make their own jack-o-lantern pizzas, topping with cheese and using black and green olives to make the eyes, nose and mouth. Your kids will devour their new “disgusting” or festive meals with gusto in preparation for their haunted night-and it will help mitigate the amount of candy they’ll want to eat later.
No Tricks, Just Treats
Food isn’t the only item worthy of trick-or-treat fare. Consider non-food items to as an alternative to candy this year. Some ideas include:
- Deck of cards
- Glow sticks
- Temporary tattoos or stickers
- False teeth
- Costume jewelry
- Coupons to a fro-yo or smoothie store
Whether it’s limiting the quantity of candy you allow your kids to eat, serving a “disgusting” fiber-rich dinner or changing up what you hand out this year, there are many ways to make Halloween a little more healthy, and a lot less “scary” for our children’s health.
And, if all else fails, you can always hand out the dentists’ favorite trick-or-treat goodie: the toothbrush.