With the arrival of October begins the festive autumn season….and the beginning of sugar overload. It’s a challenging time for families who work hard to instill healthy eating habits in their children.
Don’t let your positive eating efforts be wiped-out by the the onslaught of holiday sugar which surrounds kids via peer pressure, advertising, and school parties.
Establish a Halloween game-plan for keeping the fun, without the sugar-binge, and keep your little monsters on a healthy-track all year round!
Tips for a Healthy Halloween Night
Everyone loves trick-or-treating, but how do you handle all that Halloween candy? Here’s some tips for staying healthy, while still enjoying a bit of sweet fun.
- Eat First: A full stomach of healthy food decreases the temptation to eat candy while trick-or-treating. Start Halloween night with a healthy dinner of fruits, veggies, proteins, and whole-grains.
- Establish a Candy Game Plan: Before leaving the house, set expectations about how much candy is reasonable to eat and what will happen with the candy excess. By discussing beforehand, this helps minimize battles and provides a great opportunity to talk about moderation and why healthy eating habits are important.
- Rule #1: Wait! Ask your child to wait until AFTER trick-or-treating to eat any candy. This provides an opportunity to inspect the treats, monitor intake, and focus on enjoying the social interaction of trick-or-treating.
- Rule #2: Prioritize. Sort candy into favorite piles — a “Keep” and a “Give Away”. This sorting task not only helps children learn how to make difficult choices, but provides a critical moment for reflection — do I really want this? — this is the first step toward teaching long-term moderation.
- Rule #3: Count. Establish how many pieces of candy are reasonable. Every family may have different ideas here — is 2-3 handfuls reasonable, or 2-3 pieces a day? Will your candy pile drag on for months, or do you have a rule about limiting sugar? Have a family meeting and discuss what is appropriate “number of pieces” for each child — then stick with the plan!
- Rule #4: Stash. Don’t let the kids keep the candy bag out. It’s too tempting (even for grown-ups) to sneak extra pieces. Put the stash away, and bring it out only after finishing healthy meals and snacks
- Offer Non-Sugar Alternatives: Is Halloween only about the candy? Think about what is meaningful to your family — the pumpkins, the apple cider, the spooky-shaped snacks — can be more meaningful, if you establish these traditions early. Nobody really wants a toothbrush when trick-or-treating, but popcorn balls, apple dips, festive trail mixes, and non-edible trinkets are healthier options.
- Be a Role Model: 90% of adults take candy from their child’s trick-or-treat bag. Remind yourself that your child is paying attention!
Recipes for Healthy Halloween Treats
Try these not-so-sugary Halloween snacks for after school treats, in lunch bags, and for school parties.
“Boo”-Nanas and Mandarin Orange Pumpkins
Decorate bananas with raisin or chocolate chip “eyes.” Peel mandarin oranges and add celery or green grape “stems.”
Use orange peels as bowls for fruit salad with jack-o-lantern faces.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Keep those pumpkin seeds when you carve your jack o lantern! They make a great Halloween night snack, tossed with cinnamon or pumpkin spice. Adults will love seeds flavored with cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Here’s some tips for roasting pumpkin seeds.
Italian Pear Ghosts
Peel pears and add chocolate chip or raisin eyes. Serve with sparkling water, for a fancy treat. For the grown-ups, serve with a sweet white wine, or lightly poach the pears in a late harvest riesling. Yum!
Get creative with toppings, and make spooky pizzas on whole grain english muffins.
Offer your kids a variety of healthy Halloween treats, and you’ll be surprised how much fun they’ll have (without even missing) all that sugar!
Easy Pumpkin Recipes for Kids and Families
Spice up breakfast, with yummy pumpkin pancakes decorated in spooky shapes. Skip the syrup, and add a little whip cream or a few chocolate chips for a lower sugar, yet sweet alternative.