As Halloween approaches and sugary treats top the shopping list, there are some tricks you can deploy to provide healthy and fun alternatives to the customary loads of candy that are shoveled into kids’ bags and stomachs.
To stop the sugar overload this Halloween, consider handing out healthy snacks and nonedible treats like Halloween stickers, spooky school supplies and temporary tattoos. They’re one of many creative ways – including exercise – to allow children to celebrate the holiday without adding to the sugar rush.
“Make Halloween an active holiday in your household,” says Erin Morse, chief clinical dietitian for UCLA Health. “Do not drive to a trick-or-treating location, if possible. Walk instead or have your kids play outside before heading out for their treats.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and UCLA Health dietitians, here are some ideas to consider:
- A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
- Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
- Do not allow young children to have hard candy or gum that could cause choking.
- Keep track of how much candy your children collect and store it somewhere other than their bedroom so you can set limits on how much they can eat.
- Make sure kids brush their teeth after eating sugary treats.
- Teach children to give. Consider donating candy to a charity or to soldiers who are living abroad.
“If you’re planning a Halloween party and want to offer up some healthy treats for your guests,” UCLA dietitian Dana Hunnes advises, “I like to do fruit on a stick for my son. Also, chocolate black-bean brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries, golden chick-pea blondies, fruit smoothies and trail mix are all healthy treats for your Halloween party guests.” Hunnes notes that the sugar ingredients for both brownie recipes can be cut in half.
“It’s the season for everything pumpkin,” says Morse. “If you are bringing food to a party, you can make Halloween-inspired vegetable platters and also incorporate pumpkin into delicious recipes such as pumpkin ice cream or pumpkin salad.”
Other tempting and healthier options for parties and trick-or-treaters can include:
- Healthy granola bars can be a smart way to satisfy a sweet tooth as well. They have fewer calories than a candy bar and include a dose of antioxidants and filling fiber. Make sure to read nutrition labels carefully, avoid granola bars loaded with saturated fat, and look for organic bars that are high in fiber.
- Pumpkin seeds are superstars! Pumpkin seed packets are festive handouts that go well with a Halloween-themed celebration. As a healthy Halloween treat for trick-or-treaters, pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, iron and magnesium. You can even make your own roasted pumpkin seeds after you make a jack-o-lantern.
- Individually-sealed servings of apple sauce are healthy and aren't perishable until opened.
- Raisin packs can be handed out to trick-or-treaters, though kids will probably appreciate the dark chocolate-covered raisins best.
Halloween no longer needs to be a scary time for parents and other adults. Simply head to your local craft store for non-edible offerings or to the grocery store for healthier treats that will be tasty enough for even the fussiest goblin!
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