The air is getting colder, the pumpkins are smiling, and everything just feels a little spookier. Halloween is almost here! Although Halloween is a lot of fun, you might be wondering how to navigate this candy-filled holiday in a smart way. We’ve compiled some of our favorite tricks for making your Halloween just a little bit healthier. Your little ghosts and goblins will love them!
Easy and Healthy Halloween Treats
First of all, moderation is key! Halloween only comes once a year, so it’s alright for both you and your kids to indulge a little bit. If you love peanut butter cups, feel free to have one. A piece or two of a favorite candy won’t derail a healthy lifestyle. The Academy of Nutrition and Diatetics suggests that instead of making sweets off limits, make sure that your kids have had a healthy dinner or filled up on healthy snacks before bringing out the treats. When it’s time to have dessert, use portion control to make sure the kids (and the adults) aren’t overloading on sugar. Stick to fun-sized candy, and regulate how much your child is eating by serving them instead of leaving treats out in the open.
If you’re throwing a Halloween party, you have a lot more control over what treats you and your family will enjoy. There are lots of healthy swaps you can make for traditional party foods that all of your guests will enjoy!
- Instead of potato chips, try whole grain snacks like tortilla chips and whole wheat pretzels. You can make your own tortilla chips by cutting corn or flour tortillas into wedges with a little bit of cooking spray and your favorite seasonings and baking them in the oven until they’re crispy. You can make baked potato chips the same way with thinly sliced white or sweet potato. Cook these with your kids for a fun family activity!
- Serve healthy dips like guacamole, hummus, and salsa. This tasty pumpkin pie dip is packed with calcium from low-fat dairy and tastes great on apple slices!
- Fresh fruit dipped in chocolate, granola bars, trail mix, and fruit snacks made with 100% juice are good alternatives to candy. Buy single-serving packs or make your own with zip-top bags for portion control.
- For a sweet treat, try making a batch of an old Halloween favorite: popcorn balls. Although traditional popcorn balls are often made with buttery, salty popcorn and corn syrup or marshmallows to bind them, they’re easy to lighten up. All it takes is popcorn and honey! Pre-popped popcorn will work fine, but we’d recommend making your own using plain popcorn kernels and either an air popper or your microwave.
Getting Active on Halloween
Eating smart is a big part of a healthy lifestyle, but being active is just as important. It’s easy to make Halloween less about food and more about fun! If you’re trick-or-treating as a family, walk from house to house instead of driving. The American Heart Association recommends setting a goal for how many houses or streets you’ll visit. If you’ve got a big family, or if your kids’ friends are trick-or-treating with you, split into teams and make it a game.
Getting everyone moving will also make a Halloween party more fun! Lots of party games can be given a Halloween twist. Try:
- Playing monster or zombie tag
- Giving the egg-on-a-spoon relay race a Halloween spin by painting ping pong balls to look like eyeballs
- Ring toss using a witch’s hat
- Pin the tail on the black cat
- Bobbing for apples
Some other great ideas include having a costume parade, playing Halloween charades, and throwing a monster dance party!
What’s a Teal Pumpkin?
You might have noticed blue pumpkins in your neighborhood the last few Halloweens. There’s a good reason for that! The Teal Pumpkin Project was started by FARE, an organization that raises awareness and supports research for food allergies. If a house has a teal pumpkin outside, that means that they are offering trick-or-treaters both candy and non-food treats. The goal of the project is to make Halloween inclusive to children with allergies to ingredients that are often found in Halloween candy, like milk, wheat, and peanuts. Here are just a few of the non-food treats FARE recommends:
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
- Playing cards
- Bouncy balls
- Finger puppets
To be extra safe, you’ll want to make sure that your candy and non-food treats are in separate bowls. If you have friends or neighbors who have participated in the project before, ask them what non-food treats were popular at their house. You might also want to coordinate with other houses on your block that are participating to make sure you aren’t giving out the same goodies. FARE and Nextdoor have maps available to track who else in your neighborhood has a teal pumpkin.
Halloween is not only a wonderful time to teach your family that having a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean cutting down on holiday fun, but to fit it into your life as well. Making physical activity enjoyable, trying smart food swaps, and treating yourself to favorite foods in moderation all go a long way toward establishing healthy habits that last for kids and adults alike.