Halloween is steeped in iconic traditions – donning costumes, carving pumpkins and playing pranks. And while a sugar rush may be as ingrained in the holiday as witches and brooms, there are lots of reasons to strive for a healthier Halloween this year.
“With the rise in diabetes, obesity and food allergies, planning a Halloween that’s healthier and safer for everyone is always a better way to celebrate,” said Dr. Justin Asbury with Novant Health Oceanside Family Medicine. But making things healthier doesn’t mean you have to skimp on fun. We’ve compiled our top tips for ensuring your holiday is healthy and safe while staying flavorful and spooky.
1. Give out non-lame, non-food treats. No one wants to be the house handing out pennies or coupons. However, there are lots of options for anyone looking for less sugary and allergy-safe treat options. “Stickers are always a surprisingly huge hit,” Asbury said. “You also can give out temporary tattoos, false teeth, small bottles of bubbles or party-favor size card decks.”
2. Look for alternative trick-or-treating options. “Alternative trick-or-treating options are especially important for children with severe food allergies and other issues,” Asbury explained. “Many local organizations and groups host trick-or-treating options that will be safe for your child’s food allergies. Investigate, connect and enjoy!” If hosting a party or group of trick-or-treaters, be sure you’re aware of any food allergies beforehand.
3. Real food first. “It’s always a good idea to feed your children a wholesome meal before they go trick-or-treating so they’re full and less likely to binge on sugar,” Asbury said. Healthy recipes abound, offering party-ready, Halloween-themed snacks – from banana ghosts to pumpkin oranges. Get creative!
4. Control the stash. There’s something to be said for a giant pillowcase brimming with brightly wrapped sugar. There’s nothing wrong with a great Halloween candy hoard, as long as it’s enjoyed in moderation. Establish clear expectations with your child early on about how the candy will be handled. “You can stress the importance of saving and rationing your candy to enjoy it longer, or encourage sharing it with friends to reinforce the importance of sharing,” Asbury said. “Some children are really good about limiting what they eat. Know your child. If your child tends to overdo it, have a plan. And set a good example by enjoying Halloween candy in moderation yourself.”
5. Make wiser choices. When making choices for what you’re going to hand out to treaters (or consume yourself this holiday), look for sweets with more natural ingredients. “Avoid artificial colors, corn syrup and chemicals. Reach for dark chocolate, lollipops, licorice, fruit leathers and candy that use real, whole and even organic ingredients,” Asbury said.
With a little planning, you can ensure your ghosts and goblins are full of grins and less empty sugar calories this holiday. Happy haunting!