Healthy Halloween Treats Tips

by Maren Sederquist, MES, CSCS, CPT

Ok, I know I'm not the only one who's eaten Halloween candy before the trick-or-treaters have arrived. I'm also not the only one who's had to go back to the store to buy more candy, because I've eaten so much before Halloween! I had to learn not to buy my candy too early to limit how much I'd eat. Keeping candy out of sight once I purchased it reduced the amount I ate, but it didn't eliminate it.

Post-Halloween wasn't any better. I didn't want to throw away any leftover candy and waste it, so instead it went to my waist. Every year I read articles about the typical holiday weight-gain of 7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. But doesn't it really start at Halloween? Candy isn't just around for one day. It's around stores, homes, offices and schools for weeks. As a kid, I plotted ways to get more candy each Halloween. As an adult, I have to plan ways I can avoid it!

Growing up, Halloween was easily my favorite holiday. I don't remember ever carrying a pumpkin to gather candy in. I always held out a big pillowcase, and dreamed of having to return home and dump it out so I could hit the streets for more. I also probably trick-or-treated a few more years than I should have. To say I had a sweet tooth was an understatement.

Halloween is not as fun anymore, as it was when I was a kid. I now know too much about nutrition to get away with eating all that candy without feeling guilty. Never mind that I would feel sick! I also feel a sense of responsibility as a mother, to not contribute to kids' expanding bodies and incidence of juvenile diabetes. Do you feel guilty about contributing to childhood obesity each Halloween?

The last few years, I resolved to do it differently. And I have the solution for you! There are many healthy options for treats that kids will love. Believe me, they will get plenty of candy. The treats that will stick out in their memories are the ones that will last longer than a bite. Here are my suggestions!

Look in your neighborhood discount store, drug store or party store. The possibilities are endless. Kids love things that are sticky, noisy or keep them engaged for a while. Parents love things they can use. Typical Halloween candy bars cost between $0.15 and $0.50 each, and the majority of these suggestions are in that price range or less!

Sticky Treats

  • Stickers
  • Temporary tattoos

 

Noisy Treats

  • Whistles
  • Kazoos
  • Clackers

Engaging Treats

  • Sliding puzzles
  • Other puzzles
  • Dominoes
  • Finger puppets
  • Swizzle sticks
  • Glow sticks
  • Spinning tops
  • Paddleball games
  • Mini kaleidoscopes
  • Mini prisms
  • Yo-yos
  • Balls
  • Toy cars
  • Toy gliders
  • Bubbles & wands
  • Trading cards
  • Activity pads
  • Small comic books
  • Small coloring books
  • Halloween clip art printed from your computer that they can color
  • Books - If you want more information about giving out books, visit http://www.booksfortreats.org

 

Useful Treats

  • Money (any amount from pennies to dollar bills)
  • Note pads
  • Sticky notes
  • Bookmarks
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Crayons
  • Eraser
  • Key chains
  • Ponytail holders
  • Toy jewelry

 

You can even order all the above and more online and avoid being tempted to go back on your resolve and buy candy. There is still time!!! (Even if you don't want to order online, this is a terrific place to get ideas.)

Although sugar-free gum and raisins are valid healthy options, I remember hating those treats as a kid. If you must get them food, these are healthier options:

  • Raisins
  • Small packages of dried fruit
  • Cereal bars
  • Snack-size packages of peanut butter & crackers or cheese & crackers
  • Graham crackers, oatmeal cookies or animal crackers
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Sesame crisps
  • Fruit roll-ups

My love of candy started as a kid, and my sweet tooth hasn't gone away, but my knowledge of nutrition, and desire to keep my body (and others') healthy, has motivated me to change my Halloween habits. I hope you will too!

Pick your favorite healthy Halloween toy, and help yourself and your neighborhood kids get healthy!