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Make This Halloween Healthier!

Managing weight can be a challenge – especially during Halloween. However, a little pre-planning can go a long way.  Below, we discuss some helpful tips and tricks to make this Halloween healthier for everyone involved.

6 Tips for Parents on Halloween

When considering the candy that is collected while trick-or-treating:

#1 – Examine Halloween candy immediately.

After trick-or-treating, parents should inspect ALL candy. Look for and throw away:

  • …anything with holes in the wrappers
  • …candy that looks like it has been tampered with
  • …any homemade goods (unless you know the baker and ingredients they used)
  • …any candy that your kids may be allergic to (ex: peanuts)
  • …any candy that is expired

*Always be sure to read all candy labels carefully!

#2 – Eat before you go.

Make sure your children have a healthy, filling dinner before they go trick-or-treating. This will reduce snacking while walking as well as overindulging on candy afterwards.

#3 – Use a smaller bag for candy collection.

Parents can minimize the amount of candy brought home by providing kids with a smaller bag or pumpkin basket instead of a large bag.

#4 – Be selective.

After trick-or-treating, allow your kids to choose one or two of their favorite candies, and then take the rest away. Have your children eat their candy with a cup of low fat milk to minimize the sugar spike before bed.

#5 – Be disciplined; opt for the “fun size”.

Some healthier choices for candy bars are the “fun size” instead of the full size. If you have a choice in chocolate, go for the dark chocolate, which is a little bit healthier.

Once your kids have their 1-2 pieces of candy, put the stash away, and only allow them to have one piece of candy per week as a treat. To be fair (as well as a good role model), parents should follow this rule as well!

#6 – Offer a ‘Candy Trade’.

Give your kids the option to trade their candy in for a favorite non-food item, like: shoes, clothes, cash, iTunes gift cards, or movie tickets. This rewards them for making a healthy decision.

children wear halloween costumes and pose with pumpkins, and candy

Non-Candy Giveaways that Kids Will Enjoy

The following are some non-edible treats that most kids will enjoy:

  • Bouncy balls
  • Spider rings
  • Halloween-themed pencils, erasers, stickers
  • Bubbles
  • Little notebooks & crayons
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Glow sticks
  • Deck of cards
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Hacky sacks

Other Edible, Candy Alternatives

If food is your preference, the following treats are better choices than candy:

  • Boo! Halloween cupcakeSnack packs of: Goldfish, whole grain pretzels, nuts, seeds, trail mix, raisins, or light microwave popcorn
  • Individually wrapped granola bars
  • Sugar-free hot chocolate packages
  • Pre-packaged apple slices

Skip the Trick-or-Treating & Try This Instead

Just because it’s Halloween, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go door-to-door collecting candy. Instead, give some of these ideas a try:

  • Dress up as a family, and go to see a movie!
  • Deliver healthy Halloween treats to your local police station, fire station, nursing home, or children’s hospital!
  • Attend a Halloween parade (check your local area)!
  • Visit one of the many pumpkin patches in the Triangle!

Halloween + Diabetes

If your child is diabetic, it doesn’t mean that he/she can’t participate in trick-or-treating. There are ways to make Halloween safer for them. For example, if your child is walking a lot that evening, he/she may be exerting more calories and may need to use more insulin.

As much as possible, make an agreement with your children to wait to eat the candy when they are home so that you can carb count appropriately.

Parents should be educated about how different types of candy impacts blood sugar. For example, chocolate with more fat has a slower release of sugar than the sugary candies that cause a quicker release of glucose.

About Samareh Hill, MD

Dr. Samareh Hill is a board certified pediatrician with WakeMed Physician Practices, Pediatrics. Her professional interests include research on general pediatrics and obesity, and developing public programs and interventions aimed at preventing childhood and adolescent obesity.