It’s that time of year again, where parents will be busy with all sorts of Halloween related activities. For many parents, Halloween brings thoughts of parties and costumes, not to mention lots of sugary treats. Of course, as parents, you want your child to enjoy all the festivities of Halloween; but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to abandon good eating habits completely!
We have many little “tricks and treats” ideas that you can use to help manage your child’s candy desires and still have loads of fun on Halloween! Learn that with just a little bit of planning, you can avoid the stress and frustration associated with trying to limit candy. Instead, turn this into a healthy Halloween season and a fun opportunity to teach your child how to make healthy choices and include once in a while treats in their diet.
Kids are also learning about healthy Halloween tips on their Explorer’s fun page.
Nutrition and a Healthy Halloween
Halloween is a great time for parties and trick-or-treating for children and grown-ups too. We get to dress up as our favorite super hero, enjoy Halloween parades and collect lots of treats along the way. It can also be a challenging time for parents who are trying to manage their child’s desire to eat all that candy!
We have put together a lots of fun alternatives to a sugary Halloween. Halloween actually offers you an excellent opportunity to teach your child about healthy eating and once-in-a-while treats. Teaching your child how to include a treat as part of their healthy eating plan, how much they can eat and when treats can be eaten all provide learning opportunities that help your child to establish healthy eating habits.
Managing Halloween Candy Tips
Follow these simple tips to keep your child healthy and the treats under control.
Halloween treats show up in the stores late September. The first thing is to not fall into the marketing trap and get tempted to buy candy early, that includes the grocery line where kids will get tempted with all sorts of Halloween promotions. Buying candy too early makes it way too tempting to get into the stash before trick-or-treating even starts. Buy your candy a couple of days before Halloween.
Set expectations early. Prepare your child the day before Halloween. Talk about how much fun it will be to go trick-or-treating but not so much fun for their body if they eat a lot of candy. It is important for kids to learn that candy is a treat that should be eaten in small doses. They can spread their candy over many days, by dividing it up. Help your child see the benefit of making Halloween treats last longer.
Determine a reasonable number of days to enjoy the candy. Five days is a good goal. Most children will get way more candy than needed, even when they divide it up. You don’t want to teach your child to eat candy every day, since it is a once in a while treat.
Agree upon when the candy treat will be eaten. This helps your child learn that candy can be an occasional part of a healthy meal plan.
Discuss candy-eating rules with your child before they go out trick-or-treating. Children should not eat candy until they have come home and allowed you to inspect all the candy. This is a good rule that is part of safe Halloween. Look at the wrapping carefully for a tight seal and toss out anything that looks suspicious.
It is best to feed your child dinner or a healthy snack such as a peanut butter sandwich and a piece of fresh fruit before going trick-or-treating. They will be less tempted to dig into their bag before they get home.
Have your child actively participate in dividing up their candy and making little treat bags they can enjoy, one each day. This gets the child involved in the decision-making and helps them feel ownership of the process. Keep it fun! you can take advantage of the candy by playing games. For example, have your child count all of the chocolate bars or separate the candy into groups – all the M&M’s in one pile, all the Skittles in another, and so on.
Using mini-sized bags, help your child pick and choose a couple of pieces of their favorite candy to place in each baggie. This helps them learn portion control, a very important part of healthy eating.
Store the extra baggies of candy in a cabinet out of reach. It is best not to store the candy in their room to help them avoid temptation.
Healthy Halloween Treats
You can use Halloween as a time to be a role model and show your children that you spend time thinking about healthier choices. This helps kids learn that healthy eating is very important to you and the family. Always keeping it fun and a positive experience, you can make it a game to ‘hunt’ in the grocery store for healthier choices! You can teach your children to read food labels to find the treats that are lower in sugar. You can also teach kids how to avoid the sugar rich Halloween treat foods that are strongly advertised.
Halloween does not have to be about candy. You can also be creative and find the cutest infant costumes available online. Here are some healthy alternatives to Halloween treats that are fun and inexpensive that can be handed out to trick-or-treaters.
Fun ‘Low Sugar’ Alternatives and Candy Free Treats for Halloween
Printable Healthy Lunch Notes
- Sugar free gum
- Bouncy balls
- Slimy necklaces
- Rubber spiders
- Vampire teeth
- Temporary tattoos
- Snack size package of popcorn
- Individual packets of crayons
- Halloween pencils
- Fancy erasers
- Pencil toppers
- Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
- Small jar of play-do
- Decoder rings
- Tiny decks of cards
For more ideas, read Chef Solus list of Sugar-Free Halloween Treats with over 70 ideas!
Leftover Candy Ideas and Tips
Now that you have divided up the candy and created several days of candy treats, what do you do with the rest of the candy. Most kids collect way more candy then they can or should eat. And if you have agreed on a certain number of days for candy treats, you will certainly have leftovers.
Here are some ideas for Halloween candy leftovers:
- Take the leftover candy to your work to share in the break room.
- Consider buying back some or all of the remaining candy. This might make your child feel good and it provides a treat in the form of spending money.
- Put the remaining candy in a plastic bag and keep it in a cabinet in the kitchen for a later event. Remember the saying, “out of sight out of mind.”
- Use the candy at Christmas time for a gingerbread house.
- Donate it to a local shelter.
- Send it to the troops.
- Donate it to the school for an arts and crafts project.
- Throw it away.
Make Halloween A Time To Be Active
- Halloween is not just about the treats! Halloween is a great time to enjoy being active. The cool weather that comes along with the fall season is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors as a family.
- Take advantage of the beautiful foliage and collect orange, red and yellow leaves. Make a decorate wreath or paste leaves on construction paper to decorate the house.
- During October visit a local pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkins and gourds. Many pumpkin patch locations have other activities such as corn mazes, haunted houses, and hay rides. Pack up some sandwiches and spend the day!
- Enjoy walking instead of driving to nearby stores to shop for Halloween costumes.
- Join your kids and enjoy walking through the neighborhood or malls to look at Halloween decorations.
It is not hard to make Halloween a healthy and fun event with just a bit of planning. Candy is part of Halloween but it does not have to be the only part of Halloween. The autumn season offers so many wonderful opportunities for families to make healthy eating, nutrition and being active a priority. This Halloween plan for a healthy season that helps your child learn about healthy choices while forming a positive association with nutrition. Have a happy Halloween and watch out for all the witches, ghosts and goblins!