We’re not here to tell you to swap apples for your kid’s Halloween treats, or that you should be the house giving out raisins or toothbrushes. We fully support kids enjoying Halloween candy as a treat. If your child eats healthy on a regular basis, go ahead and let them enjoy candy in a safe and moderate way. Here are some healthy Halloween tips to strike the balance.
Eat before the “trick or treat”. When kids eat balanced meals and snacks throughout the day it helps keep their moods and energy levels more stable, which is also helpful when it comes time to enforcing any limits on candy consumption. This is particularly true on the day of Halloween, when they’ll be trick or treating and/or at Halloween parties and have abundant access to candy. Make sure kids eat a well balanced meal prior to heading out for festivities. A hungry kid with access to unlimited candy can be a recipe for overdoing it on the sugar and can lead to meltdowns, tummy aches, and a missed opportunity to teach kids how to have a balanced, healthy relationship with treats. If you’re having a party, include fun ways to arrange veggie and fruit trays like this veggie skeleton. Make something hearty for dinner like this Turkey Chili or Southwestern Tuna Noodle Casserole. For a party snack, try popcorn trail mix, which provides crunch and nutrition, or these adorable clementine pumpkins with a celery stem.
Talk the talk. Instead of focusing on negative aspects of candy, or framing the conversation around good and bad foods, talk more about how healthy options can be fun (and make them that way!) When it comes to candy, opt for phrases such as “candy is a treat” or a “it’s a once in a while food because we have to leave room for other important foods”, but don’t harp on it.
Out of sight out of mind: Keep the candy put away until Halloween day. If kids know that it’s around, make it a rule that they have to wait until Halloween to have some. Or, if your kids normally have a small treat each day, let them swap in 1-2 pieces of Halloween candy in place of their other treats during Halloween season.
Set a 1-2 piece a day limit. We recommend allowing regular treats, as long as they’re in portion controlled amounts and not replacing a healthy meal or snack. Halloween candy is no exception. Once Halloween is over, put excess candy in a cabinet or the freezer and allow kids 1-2 of the miniature pieces a day. Freezing candy makes it take longer to eat, and therefore each piece is savored a bit more.
Healthier candy: As a general rule, we say that candy is candy. Since you’re eating small amounts anyway, eat the type you love most. However, there are some more nutritious options, so if your kids like peanut M&Ms, dark chocolate (which typically contains more antioxidants and less sugar than milk chocolate), or a candy brand that uses more natural flavorings and colorings, it’s even better. Just remember, it’s all still candy, so healthier versions shouldn’t be eaten in larger amounts either.
What tips do you use to keep your family’s nutrition balanced during Halloween?