The costumes are ready, the jack-o-lanterns are carved, and the day is finally here! Kids look forward to Halloween each year. Little trick-or-treaters can’t wait to start knocking on doors to see what treats they will get. And why shouldn’t they? Candy reigns supreme on Halloween. Estimates show that children accumulate between 3,500 and 7,000 calories of treats in one night of trick or treating.
To keep Halloween fun, but also somewhat healthy for the kids, try some or all of these tips.
Serve a healthy meal before they leave the house. If kids are full before they go trick-or-treating, they may eat fewer pieces of candy on the way and afterwards.
Walk with your children from house to house. Walking, instead of driving, helps everyone get some exercise, and you can watch out for their safety.
Prepare some healthy snacks so that they’re ready when you return to the house. Make Halloween-themed English muffin mini-pizzas and let them decorate them as jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, mummies, or other spooky creatures using cheese and cut-up veggies. Or try sliced apples with low-fat caramel dip. Just remember to serve water with the snacks instead of sugary drinks.
Encourage your children to donate candy to a charity. This helps teach children the importance of sharing with others and is a great way to start the holiday season of gratitude, giving back, and good cheer. Make sure to first throw out any candy that is homemade or unwrapped, then split the rest into two piles: candy they want to keep, and candy they want to share or don’t like. Donate the second pile.
Let kids indulge, but don’t go overboard. There is nothing wrong with letting them eat candy on Halloween night, as long as you limit the amount. A little goes a long way and it’s best to allow kids to have no more than 1-3 pieces of candy a day. Make candy a regular part of meals, starting with lunch at school, as an afternoon snack, or after dinner. The rest of the candy can go in the freezer so that it is out of sight and out of mind.
Try handing out fun, non-candy trick-or-treat options. Toys, stickers, and mini Play-Doh containers provide a fun, healthy alternative that are also great for children who have food allergies.
You can also consider offering healthier food treats, such as animal crackers, pretzels, popcorn, popcorn balls, fruit, granola or cereal bars, trail mix, whole grain crackers, and mini graham crackers.
Trick or treating is a fun tradition but try something different this year to make it healthier for the “little princesses, superheroes, ghosts and goblins” in your life and at your door.