Taming the Halloween Candy Monster
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
For kids and more than a few adults, Halloween is one of the best holidays around. Silly costumes and scary fun are all part of the festivities, but let’s be honest; most of us associate Halloween with candy. In the US alone, trick-or-treaters spend the evening collecting a staggering 600 million pounds of candy.
Controlling what your kids eat during a candy-focused holiday is no easy task. And while the holiday does seem to be all about the candy, it’s still a good idea to help your kids focus on the fun, and to set some limits. Make sure your kids have a healthy meal or snack before they head out, and negotiate with them ahead of time how much candy they’ll be allowed to keep and eat.
Whether you go all out with a Halloween-themed meal or just some snacks, offer kids some fruits, veggies and lean protein to keep them satisfied before they get going. That way, they’ll be less likely to chow down on candy all night. Since they’ll be eager to get out the door, offer easy-to-eat foods like turkey sandwiches, some fruit and maybe some baby carrots with hummus or low fat ranch. If they are really in a rush, you can whip up some Halloween pumpkin smoothies. Just whirl some low fat milk, vanilla protein powder and a scoop of canned pumpkin in the blender for a light, nourishing meal.
Adults who are watching their waistlines struggle to fight temptation, too. Some resort to handing out candy they don’t like, in the hopes that they won’t eat it. Sometimes that works, but if you know your kids are coming home with candy, you might have to set limits on yourself, too, and determine ahead of time what (and how much) you’ll keep, eat or give away.
If you don’t want to contribute to the candy madness, you can also offer some healthier treats. With kids getting so much candy, they’re usually more than happy to receive some out-of-the ordinary treats in the mix, like roasted peanuts in the shell, individually wrapped fortune cookies, granola bars or packets of hot cocoa mix.
If you’re feeling more bold, you could also avoid handing out food altogether. Kids say that they like to get colorful stickers, pencils, temporary tattoos and Halloween-themed party favors also, all guilt-free alternatives to traditional sugar-laden treats.