Just when you thought you had made it through the Thanksgiving storm unscathed, it’s time to break out the spooky costumes and props, and of course, buy twice as much candy as you’ll need for those good ol’ trick-or-treaters. We’re weeks away from Halloween, which means all of you parents are likely putting the finishing touches on those creative costumes and stocking up on the chocolate and candies. Before I start listing healthy alternatives to Halloween candy, let’s all acknowledge that a Halloween without candy is unlikely – tradition is tradition, and as much as we’d love to drop a Golden Delicious into every trick-or-treat bag, that probably won’t go over well with the children (and after all, we do it all for the children….right?). So, instead of healthy alternatives to your favorite Halloween treats, I’ve put together a list of ways to keep this Halloween a success, while avoiding the annual sugar coma.
Who says the treat has to be edible? I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, I was thrilled to find a new Candy Corn eraser or Dracula pencil in my treat bag. Halloween is about dressing up, showing off your spooky threads, and the actual act of trick-or-treating – the candy, that’s just a bonus. If you’re concerned about making that brave transition from treat to toy, come together with a few neighbours, or the whole street and decide together to give out toys this Halloween. Glow sticks, toy spiders, stickers, stick on tattoos, or pencils and erasers make for great trick or treat bag fillers. Not to mention, with the increase in allergies and intolerances these days – these can be the safest bet for all the children to enjoy. And if that’s not enough of a sell – keep in mind too that toys won’t hang around whispering eat me from the kitchen counter every day for the next few months. I’d say that’s a win-win.
Be the Boss – We’re all guilty of opening the door to the kiddies and letting those little hands reach into the bag of candy and grab whatever they can carry. Yes, those hands are small, but boy are they quick – before you know it, your candy will be gone and 10 lucky trick-or-treaters got away with a month’s worth of sugar in one go. This Halloween, put your pirate’s hat on and take control. I’m the captain now. One candy/chocolate bar per trick-or-treater can avoid children going home with more candy than their stomachs know what to do with, and it can also help you control how much you buy. One box of 100 mini chocolate bars means 100 trick-or-treaters and then you’re off the hook. Live in a small neighbourhood? Buy according to the anticipated number of candy-eating munchkins to avoid having boxes of leftover candy at home to mindlessly consume.
Pick the best, save the rest – This was my mother’s go-to when it came to Halloween for us growing up. We’d all come home, dump out our treasure – engage in the usual candy negotiations and trades, and once we had settled on our collection, we were allowed a handful of our favorites for the evening. Once the excitement of the night had died down, along with our sugar highs, we packed up our candy in a plastic bag and mom stored them away – never to be seen again. Well, not exactly. Every week we got a treat from our bag – not as a reward for good behavior, but simply because we were allowed a treat from our Halloween candy on a weekly basis. Our candy lasted a long time, and looking back at it now, I enjoyed it a lot more over those few months than I would have if I had eaten it by the handful in a matter of days. Thanks mom, you’re the real MVP.
Repurpose those leftovers – Leftover candy is a dangerous thing. For weeks after Halloween, I have clients and patients coming in to see me talking about the leftover candy that keeps making its way into their hands and slowing their health and fitness goals down day by day. Well, good news folks! That candy can be repurposed for the greater good, and no I do not mean handing it off to your coworkers so their healthy eating is put to a stop as well. I mean it can be used for activities and education games! I know it’s heartbreaking to think that those Smarties are going to waste – but they can be used to help your kids with problem solving, math questions, and color sorting activities. Just set aside the smaller candies and use it for a fun homework day instead. Your waistline will thank you.
It’s all about the experience – I don’t’ know about you, but my favorite Halloween memories are less about the candy I got and more about the haunted houses, the best decorated front doors, and my favorite costumes. Kids look forward to this day because it’s FUN – not because of the candy. If you make the experience enjoyable and memorable for your kids, and those kids coming to knock at your door – whatever you put in their treat bag won’t really matter. A treat, a healthy alternative, or a toy won’t be what makes the evening the thrilling and chilling experience they’re looking for – so, think about that this year before going out and filling the pantry with chocolate and candy. Make this Halloween the best experience they’ve had yet – and they’ll thank you for that for years to come!
Have a spook-tacular Halloween!