No wonder Halloween is one of the most popular holidays for children of all ages. This year, 9 out of 10 kids will be trick or treating, with the hopes of getting oodles of candy.
In the past, we didn’t care about giving out huge piles of candy at Halloween, but because millions of our country’s children are now either overweight or obese and many don’t get a lot of exercise, we need to be more careful about what and how much they eat.
You don’t want to get your house egged because you give out health food instead of candy, there are ways to offer great treats that are healthier options. Whether you’re getting the goodies for your little goblins and ghouls or you’re hosting a Halloween party for children, here are some tips to keep the fear and fun high and keep the fat and calories in check.
1) Downsize the Candy Collectors
We eat with our eyes and if we have a huge bin of candy, we’ll eat more than if we have a smaller container of candy. So, trick your kid into thinking they have more candy by downsizing his door-to-door candy collector. No pillowcases!
Three-fourths of American homes will be serving traditional chocolate candy for Halloween. When purchasing chocolate treats, choose the mini or fun sizes because they will cut the calories, fat and sugar of the treats by up to 80% compared to their full-sized counterparts.
Some of the best candy options that are lower in fat and calories include: 3 Musketeers, York Peppermint Patties or Junior Mints. Mini or Fun Size Snickers or mini packets or Peanut M&Ms are better because they provide some protein and fullness factor.
3) Look for S-L-O-W to eat Treats
Another way to limit kids’ sugary treat intake is to give candy that takes longer to eat. These include hard candies (Jolly Roger) Starburst Fruit Chews, fruit leather, gummies, Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops, licorice and gum.
4) Find Fruit-Based Treats When considering your options, look for treats that have a fruit base. Such as chocolate-covered raisins like Raisinets, 100% fruit “leather” candy and small boxes of raisins are all great choices.
5) Choose Cereal-Based Treats
6) Dole Out Non-Food Tricks
At my house, I mix edible treats and little toys in a big bowl. Yale University research found that children liked non-candy options as much as candy so this is a great choice. Kids love non-candy treats like Halloween-themed pencils, pencil toppers, crayons, erasers, scary magnets or stickers, temporary tattoos, bubbles, whistles, fake money and bouncy balls that encourage activity
The Morning After
After kids have fun sorting their loot, it’s best to ration it out and keep it out of sight. When candy is visible and easy to reach, we eat three times as much of it compared to when it’s out of sight. Allow your children to choose up to 200-300 calories (about 4-6 pieces of chocolate mini candies) and then put the remainder of the candy away until the next day.
Coins for Candy
Another option parents can try is trading coins for candy. So, every piece of candy your child gives you, you give him/her a quarter, dime or nickel. Then, take the returns to work or to a children’s hospital or food bank.