How to Have a Healthier Halloween

| Posted On Oct 22, 2015 | By:

Halloween candy pumpkinThe fall season is upon us, and with it comes cooler weather, football season, apple picking and of course, Halloween. Children can’t wait to dress up in the season’s most popular costumes and go door to door in search of sweet treats. And, we have to admit, parents are equally excited about looting their child’s candy bag later that evening.

However, the sugar high, possible cavities and overdose of empty calories aren’t a highlight of the holiday. So this Halloween, make an effort with your family to make less scary choices with healthy snacks and treats – here’s how:

Remember the Treat in “Trick or Treat”

Adults and children alike consume more candy around Halloween because it is readily available. All-day snacking on leftover Halloween candy is bad for your teeth as well as your waistline. So it’s a good idea to select your favorite candy, move them out of plain sight and consider them a special treat, and then donate or throw away the rest. Or choose 1-2 small pieces of candy every day for the week of Halloween and then say bye-bye to the remaining candy, period.

Not All Candy is Created Equal

First of all, candy can cause cavities, especially the sticky and chewy kinds that get easily stuck in the crevices of your teeth. So remember to brush your teeth after eating candy!

Candies such as gummy bears offer no nutritional value whatsoever. Other candies that are lower in sugars (like Sweetarts or Dum Dums lollipops) or offer some protein (from the peanuts in M&M’s or a Snickers bar) are your best choice for Halloween treats. For those with a peanut allergy, stick to Hershey Kisses or Sweetarts, or view this allergy-friendly Halloween candy guide.

Go the Non-candy Route

This Halloween go candy-less! Hand out healthier snacks to trick or treaters like crackers or pretzels. And especially given the number of children with food allergies, non-food alternatives like glow sticks, stickers, pencils, coloring books, and other fun items are a great choice. The Teal Pumpkin Project was started last year by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) to “…raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.” Their website has a great list of non-food treats to get you started.

Know What to Look For

Test your knowledge on the right candy options here. You might be surprised to find out that a Milky Way is a better choice than a Payday bar. While the peanuts do offer lots of good protein, a Milky Way bar has 50% less fat and sodium. Check out nutrition labels before making your choices.

Give it Away

Once the initial sugar high subsides, consider giving away the rest of the candy haul. If you don’t want to inflict the calories on your coworkers, donating the leftover candy is a great option. There are many charities, such as Operation Gratitude, where you can send your candy to our troops overseas. Or you can reward your child’s donations with a new (non-edible) toy.

This Halloween doesn’t need to include a scary trip to the dentist or doctor’s office if you follow these few simple tips. Atrius Health wishes everyone a happy and safe Halloween!

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  1. Here’s a helpful link for those wanting to give their kids’ candy to the troops:

    Comment by Julie Seed, MEd, RD, LDN, HVMA Nutritionist Watertown and Copley on October 28, 2015 at 12:29 pm

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