Trick-or-treating is a lucrative business, at least if you’re in the business of collecting calories. Based on the nutrition labels on popular candies, it’s been estimated that the average child accumulates 3,500–7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night, according to Donna Arnett, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s School of Public Health.
Want to know what the scariest part of Halloween is? If all of those extra calories are gobbled up without moderation, those treats could add up to 1–2 pounds. Yikes! But there are ways you and your family can have a healthier Halloween.
I’m all for enjoying a few Halloween treats here and there — especially those delicious peanut butter cups — but with the abundance of candy, it sure is easy to go overboard.
These tips and tricks will help us all survive the upcoming candy-filled days.
7 Tricks for a Healthier Halloween
WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE
Hold off on breaking open those bags of candy until just before trick-or-treaters arrive. Take it a step further and wait until Halloween day to purchase your treats!
BE A ROLE MODEL
Take a balanced and healthy approach to your candy consumption, so children and other influential people around you learn from your healthy habits. Enjoy one or two small pieces at a time, and allow your children to do the same.
KEEP A TALLY OF MINIATURE TREATS
It’s easy to have 3-4 “snack-size” treats throughout the course of the day. You might even think you’re making smarter choices this way. When you do the math though, the fat and calories quickly add up to 1 full-size candy bar.
FILL UP EARLY
Prepare a few healthy finger foods for you and the kids to nosh on before heading out for Halloween festivities. Doing so will likely reduce the desire to fill up on candy instead.
Here are a few we love that will keep with the festive spirit:
- Apple Pie Energy Bites
- Maple Cinnamon Trail Mix
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Oatmeal Cups
- Cheese-less Cheesy and Spicy Popcorn
CONSIDER A CANDY EXCHANGE
Allow your children to enjoy their Halloween treats for a day or two and then propose making a trade; their pillowcase full of candy for a new toy of their choice. You can donate any leftover candy to a charity or organization of your choice.
GIVE OUT NON-TRADITIONAL TREATS
Things like sidewalk chalk, bouncy balls, jump ropes, glow sticks and hacky sacks are inexpensive and promote physical activity — which is probably more fun for kids than another handful of miniature candy bars.
ENJOY THE DAY FOR WHAT IT IS
Remember Halloween, like other holidays, is just one day of the year. If you and your family make healthy eating a habit, a few days of overindulgence is perfectly okay and should be enjoyed! Plan on making a tasty, nutritious meal over the weekend and get back on track once the trick-or-treating is over.
Originally published October 2017, updated October 2023
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