It’s midway through October and Halloween is right around the corner. Ghosts and ghouls aside, this is the one night when parents cringe in terror at the pillowcases full of sugary sweets that the kids bring home.
The average American child accumulates up to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night. Yikes! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children over the past 30 years, which makes our beloved candy-centric holiday a bit of a nightmare for health experts and parents alike.
But you can keep your kids happy and healthy with these 4 simple tips to avoid screamfests, sugar meltdowns, and chocolate crashes this October 31.
#1 Fill Them Up Before They Head Out
Having a full stomach before a night of trick-or-treating means fewer pieces of candy consumed. And for the younger ones, it’s all about presentation. Below, we’ve scoured the web for spooky twists on healthy snacks. To the right, are 3 simple recipes from Everyday Health.
Additional Online Healthy Halloween Recipes:
- Listotic: 64 Non-Candy Halloween Snack Ideas
- Everyday Health: 10 Healthy Halloween Treats
- Cooking Light: Healthy Halloween Recipes
- Greatist: 14 Healthy Halloween Recipes
- Food Network: Healthy Halloween Recipes
- Eating Well: Healthy Halloween Recipes
#2 Not all Treats Are Sweet
Instead of buying candy to pass out (leading to more temptation when you're left holding a full bag), give non-candy treats a try. Stickers, bubbles, spider rings, kaleidoscopes, funny glasses, and other spooky treats can be a welcome substitute. Make sure to pick age-appropriate alternatives, including safe options for smaller children, with no parts they can choke on.
- Parents: Alternative Halloween Treats for Kids
- Women's Day: 9 Non-Candy Halloween Treats
- Allergic Living: Top picks for candy alternatives
- Mom Trends video: Candy-Free Halloween Treats
#3 Bribe and Brush
Some dentist offices have “buy back” programs, in which your kids can turn in candy for money or toys. If your dentist doesn’t partake, you can still start your own candy-trade-in tradition. For every pound of candy, give them tokens that can be used for fun activities you can do as a family, such as a day at the zoo, an afternoon playing at the park, going ice skating, or seeing a movie of their choice. Above all, before the kids crash for the night, make sure they take a little extra time to floss and brush with fluoride toothpaste.
#4 Mix it up!
There’s leftover candy. The kids know it. One way to teach moderation—and wean them off the booty bag—is to mix in chocolate-y leftovers with whole-grain cereal, nuts, and pretzels to make a homemade trail mix snack. Another way to slow the sweets binge is to serve it after something healthy, such as fruits or vegetables. If the treats come last, they'll be more full by the time they indulge.
Keep in mind, that if your children generally eat well all yearlong, having some sweets on Halloween night, and a few small pieces in the days afterward, is not going to send them on a pre-diabetes spiral. The key is moderation. Model healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle. And enjoy the small holiday indulgences as a family.