With all of the costume contests, class parties, and trick-or-treating, October can be filled with spook-tacular gatherings for children that are centered around unhealthy, sugar-filled snacks. UAB’s Weight Management Clinical Dietician Megan Davis provides parents and avid Halloween fans healthier options to enjoy during this holiday.
1. Hand out non-food items as treats.
Instead of offering mounds of candy, try handing out festively fun prizes such as crayons, stickers, pencils, whistles, or temporary tattoos. These items are also great as game prizes or party favors: bouncy balls, spider rings, mini-sized Play-Doh, and plastic vampire teeth.
Note: Always be sure that toys are age-appropriate for the group you are treating.
2. Offer low-sugar options.
Davis says that children will get suspicious if there are no sweets at Halloween parties or while trick-or-treating. Fun-size candies such as Twizzlers, Dum Dums pops, and M&Ms are all 4g of sugar per serving, which is less than a full-size bag of candy. She also suggests offering low-sugar sweets like sugar-free gum, string cheese, bags of peanuts, or almonds. Other options include boxed raisins, peanut butter crackers, or fruit cups with 100%juice.
Note: Make other parents or chaperones aware if you are serving items that may be a potential food allergy, such as peanuts.
3. Choose wisely.
Instead of choosing traditional candy mixes, choose brands that have individually wrapped portions. As much as possible, avoid treats with:
• Trans fats and hydrogenated oils
• Sugars (such as corn syrup)
• Artificial flavors and dyes
Some examples of not-so-scary snacks include Orville Redenbacher’s SmartPop!, CLIF Kid Zbars, and Let’s Do Organic Fruiti Bears Gummies.
4. Provide water or juice boxes as beverages.
Davis suggests filling an empty planter or container with ice and offering mini water bottles and 100%juice boxes for trick-or-treaters. This can also be an option at Halloween parties to limit soda intake.
By adding these low-sugar, nutrient-dense options, kids can enjoy all the excitement of Halloween without consuming thousands of empty calories.