The last child rang the doorbell this Halloween night and the parade of costumed children ended. Each child who came to the door had a bag filled with sugary treats that would keep their dentists in business or quite a while and add another five pounds to them or their sneaky parents who nibbled at the goodies while they slept. I pondered for a while. “Is a healthy Halloween possible?” I asked myself. After all, I gave candy too. I’m not going to be that person in the neighborhood who gives chocolate coated Brussel spouts and says they’re bon bons. That’s a quick route to unpopularity and the road to receiving Halloween pranks.
Before you take your child out to trick-or-treat, eat a meal.
Many cities have scheduled trick-or-treat times, which normally allow enough time to eat a normal meal. If your schedule is tight, plan ahead and make sure you have a healthy meal ready to pop in the microwave, so your child is already full when going door to door. It helps curb the desire to pillage their bag of bounty while you walk. Discuss being polite to the homeowners and only taking ONE piece of candy. Too often kids have a bowl pushed in front of them and their first instinct is to grab a handful.
Walk, don’t drive to the houses.
I had a number of SUVs in the neighborhood unloading children to come up my drive. At first, I thought they might be bringing these children in from another town until I saw them move with their group just a half block down the street and allow the children to get out and go to the next house, just a few houses down and recognized one of the parents. They live a block away. Really? You can’t walk a block with your kids, but must drive them? Get out of that car and let everyone get some exercise.
If you’re having a party at your home, serve healthy snacks.
You can’t just serve a veggie tray and expect kids to gather around, gobbling up every veggie in sight. Get creative with the food. Spider deviled eggs with the spider made of black olives, eyeball spinach pasta with eyeballs made of string cheese and olives sit atop the blood red sauce, with the green creepy noodles beneath, creative veggie or fruit trays made to look like monsters and frozen ghostsicles with chocolate chip eyes and a chocolate covered raisin or a mouth are a few ideas.
- Don’t let your kids eat all the candy at once. Before you leave, discuss how much they can have each day. Bag up anything that will take over a week or so to eat and put it in the freezer if necessary.
- Provide healthy snacks to your trick-or-treaters. Whether it’s a small bags of nuts, yogurt tubes, fruit juice boxes or snack size trail mix, the kids will like you and the parents will love you for providing these alternative healthy snacks.
- Check with local dentists about the Halloween candy buy back program. They buy back Halloween treats at $1 a pound (or you can just donate them, which is a lesson itself). This candy is shipped to U.S. troops overseas by Operation Gratitude. The troops receive a toothbrush with the candy.
- Don’t let your kids take candy from strangers. Only allow your children to trick-or-treat at the homes of people you know. It may just be those in your immediate neighborhood or grandma and grandpa’s house, just to be safe. That’s okay if they don’t score a haul, especially if you have healthy snacks waiting for them at home.