No sooner is summer behind us when we start putting up fall decorations, consuming pumpkin-flavored drinks and seeing the ubiquitous Halloween candy lined top to bottom on store shelves. This time of year can be challenging for both parents and children to keep up with healthy habits. At Halloween, candy is front and center.

Here are few tips to help avoid those unavoidable candy-induced arguments:

  1. Emphasize the decorations, costumes, ghost stories, and origins of Halloween. Enjoy trick-or-treating but don’t make it the only activity associated with the holiday.
  2. Enjoy a family dinner before heading out to trick or treat. If kids are full, they’re less likely to eat too much candy.
  3. Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. A teal-painted pumpkin on your step means you hand out non-food treats to make Halloween safe for all children, including those with food allergies.
  4. Make a game of trading candy for another treat, i.e., seven pieces of chocolate buys a later bedtime, an outing to the movies, etc.
  5. Finally, don’t deprive your kids of Halloween candy. It will only make them want it more. Instead, set up some guidelines for how and when they can have it. For example, let them choose a few favorites to eat on Halloween, but eliminate chocolate with caffeine. Or, keep the candy in a common area so you can control the amount, but your child can choose the treat.

Now, candy may be a favorite, but kids also love a good theme—trust me, I’ve worked in school dining services for 30 years. There are definitely some Halloween- and spooky-themed snacks that are hauntingly healthy. Try these healthy Halloween hacks:

  1. Fill a clear plastic glove with popcorn and place candy corn at each fingertip for Spooky Hands.
  2. Build a candy corn parfait with vanilla yogurt, mandarin oranges, and pineapple.
  3. Slice the top off a large orange and pull out the fruit inside. Carve the orange as a Jack-o-Lantern and fill it with trail mix or fresh fruit.
  4. Dip strawberries into white chocolate and add chocolate chips for eyes and a nose for a ghostly experience.

Halloween Can Be Tricky for Parents, Too

Halloween is the first holiday of the fall and winter seasons that goes hand-in-hand with sweet treats. For parents who may be trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight or limit sugar intake, here’s a few tips to keep you safe from the ghoulish candy binge:

  1. Buy candy you don’t like for trick-or-treaters. Store it where you won’t see it every day.
  2. Say no to pumpkin-flavored coffee drinks that are likely loaded with sugar (I know it’s hard!). Try a coffee or skinny latte with a shot of sugar-free pumpkin syrup instead.
  3. Avoid the highest calorie candy choices in the fun-size packages: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (110 calories), Peanut M&Ms (90 calories) and Butterfinger (85 calories).
  4. If you have leftover candy, donate it or freeze it to enjoy slowly and one piece at a time.
  5. Work out the morning of Halloween because it will keep you motivated to limit your indulgences later that night.

Of course, Halloween should be fun for everyone—even grown ups, so—plan for a sweet treat or two and look forward to it. Don’t beat yourself up and enjoy it!

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