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Help Your Child Have a Healthier Halloween!

Trick or...treat? As kids, we learned not to eat unwrapped or homemade items from people we didn’t know—for good reason. Unfortunately, these days candy is coming straight out of the factory with addictive ingredients that wreak havoc on kids’ health including known carcinogens, growth hormones, artificial flavors and colors, highly processed sugar, and hazardous trans fats. While Halloween itself is only one day a year, kids often score enough loot to last through Thanksgiving. And when we consider that 80% of processed foods also contain added sugar and other harmful ingredients, we know that Halloween candy is far from being the only source of danger. But, what to do? We certainly don’t want to prevent kids from enjoying the festivities and having fun with friends. Below are some simple steps you can take to sweeten the Halloween experience while subtracting the sugar!  
Have a pre-Halloween heart-to-heart –explain to kids that, while it’s OK to have some candy here and there, it is a health robber—meaning that not only does it not do anything good for our bodies, but it actually hurts our health and can make us feel sick. That’s why, instead of eating it all the time or all at once, we’ll want to just have little bits at a time and balance it with whole foods that will help us to feel our best.  
Fuel up with whole foods first—before you hit the trick-or-treating trail, have kids hydrate with water and fuel up for fun with a mix of whole, plant foods such as fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and legumes like beans and lentils.

fruit salad for halloween

Bring a bite-sized bag—a smaller sack will fill up faster and help your child to feel they’ve done their trick-or-treating “duty.”
Try out a new “treat” tradition—with food allergies on the rise and heightened awareness of the harmful effects of candy and processed foods, more people are handing out non-food items such as glow sticks, bracelets, bubbles, stickers, crayons and Halloween coloring books, Slinkys, and bouncy balls.

Choose healthier alternatives: if you do decide to go the candy route, consider swapping traditional candy for these somewhat healthier versions:
  • OCHO Minis
  • Alter Eco Truffles
  • Justin’s Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • Unreal Candy
  • Surf Sweets Organic Candy
  • YumEarth Organic Candy and Candy Corn
  • Black Forest Organic Candy
  • Torie and Howard Organic Chewie Fruities
  • Nutiva O’Coconuts
Better yet, try these haunting but healthy Halloween snacks.  Kids will also enjoy Grape Spiders and Clementine Pumpkins or this Candy Corn parfait (which can be made with soy or coconut yogurt instead of cottage cheese and/or clementines and bananas instead of pineapple and cantaloupe).
Post-Halloween Health Tips:
  • Out of site, out of mind—adults and kids are more likely to mindlessly munch on foods that are kept in plain view. So put fruits and veggies front and center and take out the candy just once a day at a time that your child chooses, such as after lunch or dinner.
  • Trade-in candy—some dentists’ offices offer a candy buyback program. And, more parents are paging the “Halloween Fairy” or “Switch Witch” so that their kids can trade in their excess candy for a non-food prize.
Seemingly small swaps lead to big shifts. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly—there’s no such thing! Make tweaks where you can and spread the word—when we all work together, it’s amazing what we can accomplish.