A Healthier Halloween

Treats kids AND parents will love

Ghosts, goblins and sugar–oh my! Halloween is right around the corner, and while your youngsters may be deciding on their costumes, you might be dreading the candy influx that comes with this spooky holiday. Whether you want to nix the sugary treats or simply be more mindful of what you’re handing out to trick-or-treaters, there are plenty of options that kids and parents alike can agree on for a healthier Halloween.

Spoonfuls of sugar

Sugar seems to be found in abundance in our diets these days, and all of the sweetness doesn’t add up to a good bill of health. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that eating and drinking too much added sugar puts kids at risk for obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

“The AAP and American Heart Association say no more than 24 grams of added sugar, or 6 teaspoons per day,” says Cadin Jardin, Registered/Licensed Dietitian with ProMedica Flower Hospital. Jardin recommends taking a look at how much sugar your child consumes in a typical day, since that’s what will significantly impact their health long term, and not just what they consume around a holiday like Halloween.

“Sugars that are in packaged foods and drinks are what the concern is. Don’t worry about the sugar in whole fruits.” Jardin explains that it’s important to limit the sugary cereals, granola bars, fruit snacks and juice boxes. “There are a lot of birthday parties, holiday parties and other times that kids want to have sweet treats, and they should, but this is why it’s critical that their regular diet items…aren’t already increasing their risk of chronic disease.”

A balancing act

Like most things in life, moderation is the key. And that’s what Katie Thomspon, a busy working mom of three from Perrysburg, has found works best for her family.

“The night they trick or treat they want all of the candy,” Thomspon said. “I usually let them have a little bit because it seems their desire for it the next day dwindles. I also keep it in a bowl on the top of the refrigerator and that way I can monitor it because we have to get it down for them.”

“Let them eat the Halloween candy,” agrees Jardin. “Don’t panic. Let them pick out their favorites and decide what to do with the rest. Don’t make your kids feel like they are restricted…That’s just going to make them binge and want as much as possible when they have access to it.”

Success for the long haul

Jardin encourages families to look at their grocery carts as a place to start monitoring food items with higher sugar content. “Most people have the same 20-30 items in their cart each week. Look at the grams of sugar in those items, make changes to the ones with the highest content first and work your way through your cart. It’s not the mini Snickers bars the week of Halloween that are increasing your child’s risk of a heart attack in their future; it’s those sugary items they’re eating every day.”

No tricks, all treats

Nothing says that Halloween treats have to be candy. Halloween trinkets are perfect to pass out if you want to stay away from sugar. Added bonus: these treats are favored for kids with allergies, too:

  • Temporary tattoos
  • Glow sticks
  • Halloween pencils
  • Mini erasers
  • Stickers
  • Spider rings
  • Play Doh

Here’s to a happy— and healthier—Halloween!