For health-conscious parents, Halloween can be tricky, especially with the childhood obesity rate continuing to rise (did you know that the average American kid will accumulate 3500-7000 calories worth of candy in 1 night!). Watching your child collect and eat as many sugary treats as they can on a trick-or-treat adventure can be truly terrifying. But some may argue that this only happens once a year, so let kids be kids and allow them to create fun childhood memories.
While the answer is not simple, we believe that a healthy compromise is probably the best solution. Here are some top ideas on how to encourage a healthy Halloween:
1. Start with a healthy dinner.
Before kids go trick or treating, serve a healthy Halloween-themed family dinner so that when they head out, they feel full and are less likely to over-indulge.
We love monster spaghetti (courgette noodles) with meatballs, a veggie skeleton and hummus dip, or mini spider pies (chicken pies with pastry legs).
Halloween is synonymous with candy, so don’t try to make it a sugar-free day. Be somewhat lenient and discuss with your child how many sweets and chocolates they are allowed to eat before trick or treating. This also encourages them to be more mindful about candy and they are less likely to be greedy when offered the bowl of treats.
2. Give excess to charity.
Kids always come back with more sugar than they can possibly handle. Why not encourage kids to give some away – old-age homes, children’s hospitals, or anyone less fortunate who may enjoy a sweet or two, will greatly appreciate the thought.
3. Organize a neighbourhood party.
If you live in a community where other parents have similar views on healthy eating, collaborate together to make a healthy haunted trail. Create an email chain of participating houses, discuss which snacks everyone will serve, and then give the kids a trick or treat map on where they should go – kids that complete the trail can even receive a non-food prize to reward them for their healthy choices.
See some of our healthy Halloween snack ideas on our Pinterest board here.
4. Offer healthy alternatives.
While kids are not encouraged to eat unpackaged Halloween treats, they don’t all have to be laden with sugar. Some of our favourite healthy trick or treat snacks are popcorn, pretzels, seaweed snacks, low sugar cereal bars, and yoghurts.
5. Swap candy for toys.
This is one of our favourite ideas, and it’s an opportunity for kids to choose something fun and different over sweets (you may even be surprised by how many kids prefer the toys and trinkets!). Bouncy balls, stickers, bubbles, false teeth, temporary tattoos, cheap Halloween-themed pencils or balloons are great alternatives to candy, and it’s a brilliant way to accommodate any trick or treaters who may have food allergies 🙂
6. Buy back.
For slightly older kids who understand the value of money, consider buying back their stash of sugary Halloween treats. This acknowledges that the candy is theirs, but offers them an alternative treat in the form of pocket money to go spend on something that they really want.
Remember, Halloween is one day of the year. If you and your family eat healthy, wholesome meals for the other 364 days, it will have a longer lasting impact on your child’s health than 1 day of sugary fun. Happy Halloween!