While sugar is often the focus on Halloween, there are healthy ways to celebrate the holiday, too. Halloween is a great time to make some fun family memories! Create a fun and healthy Halloween this year with a little planning.
Visualize your happy, healthy Halloween
For many families, Halloween success is measured in the size of the haul. The little ones practice their cutest and best “Trick or Treat!” voice to maximize the amount of candy they receive, and the older kids map out which neighborhoods hand out the most candy. The candy crusade starts early and ends late. Pounds of candy end up in the kids’ sock drawers, and in the following weeks the kids start and end their day with a few fistfuls of candy.
If this isn’t what you want for your family, you’ll have to do some planning — and not just planning your route for maximum candy bars. Talk with your kids about what makes Halloween fun. Some children will instantly answer “candy!”, but dig a little deeper. There are plenty of fun and festive Halloween traditions that don’t involve sweets.
Celebrate without focusing on the sweets
Trick or Treating doesn’t have to be the highlight of the evening. Plan some activities that put the emphasis on the holiday rather than the candy.
- Construct the ultimate Halloween movie playlist.
- Sit around a bonfire and tell some scary ghost stories.
- Carving pumpkins is a Halloween classic.
- Visit a pumpkin patch or navigate a corn maze.
- Go for a night hike. Choose an area that’s well traveled and that you’re familiar with.
- Take a moonlight stroll through a cemetery.
- Older kids may want to spend time with friends, so agree on the kind of supervision required and set some ground rules.
Trick or Treating can still be incorporated into your healthy Halloween, just don’t let it dominate the evening. Agree on a reasonable size for a Trick or Treat bag, or limit the number of houses that you will visit. You can also set a time limit for Trick or Treating – an hour or two – so it doesn’t take up the whole evening. Set expectations and make the plans ahead of time to avoid last-minute meltdowns. Plan some fun Halloween games or a find a spooky movie to enjoy after Trick or Treat time.
Practice Trick or Treating safety and make sure that children are supervised, Halloween costumes are safe, and wait until you get home to dig into the candy.
Keep life normal most of the month
One night of excess sugar and over-excitement isn’t really the problem. It’s the giant bowl of candy corn on the coffee table from October 1st to November 1st, when you switch to sugar cookies. Just as adults can get into an unhealthy rut when “the holidays” stretch from mid-October to New Year’s, kids need a healthy routine on most days so they can enjoy holiday excess without regrets.
Kids can eat about four teaspoons of sugar a day without negative consequences. That’s the amount of sugar in half a can of soda, one cup of milk, one graham cracker, or one slice of pizza. Any day with a Little Debbie cake in it is a high-sugar day.
Whether your child’s behavior is affected by sugar or not, excessive sugar in childhood is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, and even acid reflux. Cutting back on sugar most of the time is actually more important than worrying about candy on October 31st.
So enjoy fall fruits and vegetables, hearty fall dishes like soups and stews, and wholesome whole grains in the run-up to Halloween. On Halloween night, make sure there’s a solid dinner before Trick or Treating begins, and keep party plans from focusing too much on dessert. That way, kids won’t head into Halloween candy collecting with too much sugar behind them.
Tuck excess candy into the freezer the next day and make a conscious effort to limit sugar most days so you and your kids can enjoy holiday treats through Thanksgiving and Christmas, too.
Build in some activity
You don’t have to go back too many generations to find active Halloween traditions. Maybe you walked around the neighborhood or had a costume parade at school, or your parents ran all over town to Trick or Treat. Perhaps your grandparents remember cake walks at the Halloween carnival or Halloween dances.
Add some movement to the evening to use up some of that extra energy.
Plan a round of Twister or tag when you get home, rather than just spending the rest of the evening eating candy. Revive old-fashioned games like bobbing for apples or scavenger hunts. Or adapt modern amusements like homemade slime to a Halloween theme!
Why not keep it simple? Play the danceable music mix below and dance!