Tips For a Healthy Halloween!

By: Lilli Rozanski, MS, RDN, LDN, Sports and Fitness Dietitian, Thibodaux Regional Health System

Too much Halloween candy has you frightened? Try some of these healthy ideas for snacks and trick-or-treats!

To help your trick-or-treater be a little healthier:

  1. Fill up first. What child doesn’t want to eat their favorite candy right when it goes into their trick-or-treat bag? Having a healthy meal before your child goes trick-or-treating can decrease their temptation to snack while walking, because their stomach will be full!
  2. Ditch the monster-size bag. Choose or make a smaller container for your child and steer clear of the pillow-case method. Try to encourage your kids to only take one piece of candy from each house so they can visit more houses in the neighborhood.
  3. “Franken”-walk. Get some exercise by making Halloween a fun family activity. Walk instead of driving children from house to house. Set a goal of how many houses or streets you’ll visit, or compete in teams to do as many streets as you can. Bring a bottle of water and a flashlight, and wear comfortable shoes for walking.
  4. Have a plan. Plan in advance how much candy they’ll be allowed to take, keep, and eat. If they’re old enough, let them help decide what to do with excess candy.

For the Party Host:

  1. Up the scare factor. Serve healthy snacks dressed up in the Halloween theme. There are lots of creative snack ideas being shared online at this time of year, like banana ghosts, apple monster mouths, carrot witch fingers, and candy-corn-colored fruit popsicles or parfaits!
  2. Keep them moving! Include plenty of physical activities, like a zombie dance party, three-legged monster race, spider crawl, or pumpkin toss.
  3. Rethink your drink. Don’t forget that cutting back on sugary treats includes soda and sugar-sweetened beverages. Make a Halloween-themed punch from sparkling water and a splash of 100% orange juice, garnished with plenty of orange slices and black grapes or blackberries.

For the Stay-at-Home Crew

  1. No self-service. Hand out treats to trick or treaters – one per child- instead of letting them decide how much to take.
  2. Be that house. You don’t have to pass out candy on Halloween. Start a new tradition and give out healthier treats or non-edible items. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be toothbrushes or raisins! Get creative, and keep it colorful and kid-friendly. Here are some ideas.

Healthier Items

  • Clementines, blood oranges, or oranges decorated like Jack-O-Lanterns (with non-toxic ink)
  • 100% juice boxes or pouches
  • Snack-sized packages of pretzels, popcorn, graham crackers, trail mix, nuts, or pumpkin seeds
  • 100% real fruit strips, ropes or leathers
  • Squeezable yogurt tubes or pouches
  • Single-serving containers of mandarin oranges
  • Sugar-free gum

Non-edible Items

  • Glow sticks or small glow-in-the-dark toys
  • Bouncy balls
  • Mini plush toys and wind-up toys
  • Crayons and coloring books (or intricate coloring pages for older kids)
  • Stickers or stamps
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Bubble makers
  • Spider rings or vampire teeth
  • Slime, putty or squishy toys
  • Friendship bracelets

What to do with Excess Candy

Afraid you’ll be dealing with an excess of Halloween treats until long after Valentine’s Day? Here are some ideas for enjoying the evening’s haul responsibly and getting rid of leftover candy:

  • Let each child keep enough candy to have one or two pieces a day for one or two weeks (long enough for the excitement to wane). Donate or re-purpose the rest.
  • When your child asks for a piece of candy, pair it with a healthy snack: an apple, a banana, some nuts, or celery with peanut butter.
  • “Buy back” candy from your child with money or tokens they can trade in for a fun activity: a day at the zoo, an afternoon playing at the park, going ice skating, or a day at the pool.
  • Save it for holiday baking.
  • Save it to fill the piñata at the next birthday celebration or give out with Valentine cards.
  • Use it in an arts and crafts project or to decorate a holiday gingerbread house.
  • Donate excess candy to a homeless shelter, children’s hospital, or care package program for troops overseas. A familiar sweet treat from home can be comforting at the holidays.

Have no fear – you can do this! Let’s make Halloween fun, spooky, and a little healthier, too.