A healthy Halloween may sound like an oxymoron but it is actually very easy to make small changes to your current traditions that will benefit the whole family. Halloween is the gateway to the holiday season and we all know that means it is the start of a lot of eating. It is important to set the tone of your holiday nutrition from the very beginning so you can keep “lose Holiday weight” off your New Year’s resolutions. Halloween is also a great opportunity to teach children about moderation and mindful eating; they can learn to pay attention to how certain foods make them feel and how to limit their indulgences. So without further ado, here are my favorite tips for a healthy Halloween:
- Make the most of your trick-or-treat route. Trick-or-treating gets the whole family outdoors and active. So make it count by taking the long way around the neighborhood, skipping between houses, or having the trick-or-treaters race each other from one house to another.
- Eat a healthy, filling dinner before going out to a party or trick-or-treating. An empty stomach makes candy and snacks more appealing and harder to resist. Hungry trick-or-treaters are also grumpy trick-or-treaters, so keep everyone happy by serving a meal with lean protein, healthy fats and vegetables before the festivities. As a bonus, dinner is a great time to discuss trick-or-treating routes.
- Offer something other than candy to trick-or-treaters. This has two benefits: it is better for the kids and there are no leftovers to tempt you afterwards. Some suggestions are granola bars, coloring books, bouncy balls, or glow sticks.
- Do not eat any candy until the end of the night. You will want to inspect all candy for any open wrappers or suspicious tampering. To keep kids on board, plan on weighing the candy at the end of the night. This gives kids a goal to work towards and eating any candy would work against that goal. After weighing, kids can pick out a few of their favorite pieces of candy.
- Wear reflective clothing and costumes. Halloween is the most dangerous day of the year for child pedestrians (1). Keep you and your family safe by making yourself easily visible. Glow sticks are easy to wear over any costume and they come in fun accessories like necklaces and bracelets. Reflective tape can also be added to costumes for better visibility.
There are of course many more ways to improve on Halloween. If you have you or someone you know have a healthy Halloween tradition, please share it in the comments section.
1. Childhood pedestrian deaths during Halloween — United States 1975‐1996. MMWR 1997;46:987-90.