We’re gearing up for the holiday season, which in many ways, started with the sugar-rush of Halloween and doesn’t really stop until after at least the New Year (although Valentine’s Day and Easter don’t help the situation!). While the idea is obviously to give OUT the candy, it often ends up lingering in our pantry, tempting us at all hours of the day, especially in the evening, and derailing our nutrition efforts, all in the name of making cute kids happy. So, today, I’d like to offer some suggestions for making Halloween still super fun, but also not quite so unhealthy.
- Natural Candy – don’t get me wrong, sugar isn’t good, even if it’s organic cane instead of corn syrup. BUT, there are different levels of junk. Avoiding food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and trans fats, are all great ways to make sweets just a little be “sweeter”. Look for dark chocolate, natural food dyes, and just generally sweets that only contain ingredients you can pronounce and know.
- Non-Candy Options – consider NOT getting candy. Pretzels, chips, teddy grahams, fruit strips (dried fruit ones, not just sugar ones!), and even freeze dried fruit are all great options. Yes, some kids might not be as happy receiving them, but any leftovers will make pretty good snack options for you and your family.
- Non–Food Options – take it even a step further; don’t just avoid sweets, don’t hand out food at all! Stickers, play-dough, bouncy balls, glow sticks or jewelry, miniature cars/trucks, magnets, bubbles – all make great, fun, inexpensive options for kids to enjoy and also provide a ready-made alternative for kids suffering from food allergies.
- Set Limits – if, in the end, you decide to hand out traditional candy (and that’s fine!), limit yourself so you don’t end up binging on junk for the next month. Don’t over-buy just because it’s on sale. If you have a lot left over at the end of the night, allow yourself a few pieces of your favorites and then…toss it! You’re not doing yourself any favors by keeping it around.
The holidays are just beginning; set the right tone now by making better choices for your Halloween fun. And stay tuned for more holiday tips to keep you healthy and happy through the end of the year!
Aubrey Phelps, MS RDN LDN