How to Have a Healthy Halloween

How to Have a Healthy Halloween

shutterstock_115021267Halloween is that spooky night of goblins and ghouls, best known among children for one thing above all else. That, of course, is the opportunity to collect a vast and varied assortment of goodies. Candy, syrupy popcorn balls and other edible delights of questionable nutritional value abound on this enchanted evening. For most parents, nutritionists and dentists alike, it is a time of concern. No one wants to deprive their children of this great childhood experience. Also weighing heavily in this equation is the concern that no one wants to give their children one more reason to abandon the principles of healthy living that are so difficult to instill in children under the best of circumstances.

Fortunately, with a little forethought and imagination, it is possible to have a healthier Halloween experience for your children and the other children of your neighborhood who happen to be fortunate enough to trick or treat at your door this year.

Some of the healthier Halloween options of days gone by have become too suspect to be considered high on the list these days. The days of giving apples, bananas or oranges are waning in popularity because of the risk of hidden contamination from foreign objects such as needles or razor blades. As much as we would all like to think our children are only celebrating the holiday by knocking on doors of friendly and trusted neighbors, current reality still makes a conscientious parent think twice about any treat that is not packaged and sealed from the factory in which it was produced.

Because the desire to curb the skyrocketing epidemic of childhood obesity has taken center stage in society, creating a healthier Halloween is a distinct possibility. Plenty of per-packaged snack options have taken the high road to improved nutritional value. When seeking better options to give out this Halloween consider cereal bars, dried fruit packets, trail mix, packages of chewing gum, envelopes of fat-free hot chocolate mix or even packages of low fat crackers with peanut butter.

When your children return home with their stash of loot, be sure to supervise the distribution of their bounty as well. Anything that doesn’t meet at least some minimal standard of nutritional suitability should find a home in the freezer section, ostensibly to be saved for some future treats after all the healthier options have been consumed. Believing that out of sight equals out of mind, it is a safe bet the children will quickly forget about what they can’t see and the unmentionables need never surface again.

Another avenue to consider when it comes to Halloween treats is that not everything a child gathers on the trick or treat expedition needs to be edible. Small children love to receive trinkets and toys. Give free rein to your imagination as you peruse the local dollar stores for small handouts. This year, skip the gooey chocolates and surprise the little trick or treaters with a novelty pencil, costume jewelry, crayons, balls, jump ropes or a book of stickers.

In this world of unseen dangers and questionable snack options, another very workable idea when it comes to the celebration of Halloween is to skip the door to door caravan altogether. Organize a costume party for the children of the neighborhood. Let the children dress up in their favorite costume and come prepared to play party games and collect an assortment of goodies totally controlled by the adults in charge of the festivities. Done properly, this type of event could result in the most enjoyable experience a child ever has at Halloween. For the parents it is a win-win situation. The children have a great time and the parents are in total control of what the children eat and the environment they are in.

Halloween doesn’t have to be a time of over-indulgence, upset stomachs and poor nutritional choices. You may want to bring this ancient holiday into the twenty-first century and create a more healthy experience for your children and the trick-or-treaters visiting your house this Halloween.


5 thoughts on “How to Have a Healthy Halloween

  1. I believe the “hidden objects” in fruit etc is an urban legend. And I am all for handing the candy out slowly vs just letting the kids have at it. Halloween is all about dressing up then getting the goodies so taking away the goodies I believe would be the wrong way to go.

  2. My son has always been able to pick a limited number of treats to keep and eat that night depending on his age; now he gets ~6-7 if they’re small, 3-4 if they are bigger. I always scan ingredients and remove the worst options then he donates the rest to our school which then sends it to Operation Gratitude (which in turn sends candy, letters from the students, and dental products to troops overseas). Brady gets a small toy for the candy he relinquishes, so its a win-win!
    Making sure kids eat a healthy balanced meal before they go TorT helps keep them from indulging quite as much too.

  3. When I was a kid, trick or treating was a big thing for me. I would go to my aunt & uncle’s house and my cousins and I would trick or treat in their neighborhood, then go to a church carnival. We would get a load of candy and our parents let us have a “cheat night” so to speak. I didn’t eat a lot of junk food as a kid, my mom was very aware of what I ate and wanted to make sure I ate the right things, but on Halloween night, that was an exception. Now, my mom didn’t let me eat everything in my trick or treat bag that night, but I got to have a good go at it. Then she would ration the rest of the candy. There is a fine line between letting kids overindulge and being too strict.

  4. Also forgot to add that in addition to candy, my parents also give out small bags of money – loose change collected over the year and some of the kids think they have won the lottery when they see a few coins in the bag!

  5. I really like the idea of non edible treats. I think the trick or treaters will be happy with a ball, stickers, crayons or other fun item also.

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