Healthy alternatives to Halloween candy

Growing up, I loved trick-or-treating. As an adult, I still love trick-or-treating with my children. Breathing in the crisp fall air and feeling the leaves crunch under my shoes bring back the excitement I experienced in pursuit of the perfect Halloween haul. As a kid, time was precious, only a few short hours to knock on as many doors as possible and fill up our pillow cases with king-size candy bars.

As an adult, I appreciate the motivations behind these well-meaning neighbors.  However, due to the risk of obesity, chronic disease, dental disease, and displacement of vital nutrients in the diet, added sugar should be no more than 10 percent of an individual’s daily calories per day. This means younger elementary-school-aged children should limit their added sugar to no more than 20g, while older elementary-school-aged children may be able to consume as much as 30g each day, bearing in mind all forms of added sugar (i.e. fruit juice drinks, soda, packaged foods, etc.). Two fun-sized Snickers bars contains 17g added sugar,2 more sugar than a young child should consume in the entire day! Wouldn’t it be smart to curb the sugar bingeing and offer a healthy treat to the neighborhood children this year?

Here are five suggestions on how to keep candy consumption by kids and parents within healthy bounds.

  • Be proactive – Reduce the amount of candy children receive by limiting the time spent trick or treating. A festive family dinner during the first hour of trick or treating, a scary movie with friends after knocking a few doors, or a spooky game in the park can all be fun activities to displace some of the hours spent in search of Halloween loot. One benefit of bringing the kids home early is, you can re-gift some of their candy. Consider ditching the pillow case and opting for a smaller basket that looks fuller with less candy.
  • Out of sight – Growing up, holiday treats were stored in a bowl on the kitchen counter and were always depleted by the end of the season. When my mom began storing them in a kitchen cabinet, I usually forgot they were there, and many of the treats were thrown away rather than eaten. Designate a place where the candy will be stored out of sight.
  • Timing – Control the timing of candy intake. Ensure that candy isn’t consumed before meals. Restricting candy consumption to only certain times of the day, may naturally limit the quantity of candy consumed. You may also want to limit candy to only certain days of the week.
  • Amount – Perhaps the most direct way to cut down on candy consumption is to limit it directly. As a child, I recall one friend was allowed to consume two pieces of candy daily. Another was told he had to choose his 15 favorite candies on Halloween night and the rest were thrown away. Perhaps allow children to choose which candies to eat and when they consume them.
  • Reduce other sugar – Candy isn’t the only source of sugar in a child’s diet. Try and cut back on other sources of sugar throughout the day. Get rid of the juice, drinks or fruit punch. One-hundred percent fruit juices should be limited, but they do not count towards added sugar intake. Limit any syrups, honey, jams, or other sugary topping; cut out desserts or make your child’s daily candy also serve as their dessert.

1https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/key-recommendations/
2https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/snickers/snickers-bar-(fun-size)

This blog and its contents are provided for nutrition information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information and topics may not apply to every individual and sometimes are based on alternative healthy philosophies rather than traditional scientific views. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any health or nutrition concerns you may have. The information in this article is not intended to promote any specific product, or for the prevention or treatment of any disease and should not be a substitution any medical needs or advice.

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