There’s a chill in the air – and it’s because Halloween is the official kickoff for the dreaded “eating season.”
It begins with unlimited candy, escalates through feast-ive Thanksgiving, and too often ends with the gruesome realization on New Year’s Day that the weight loss accomplished throughout the year has been undone in just a few weeks.
But, I’m not here to ruin the fun by telling you that Halloween shouldn’t be about trick or treating. I am, however, going to show you how to make the occasion less about sugary treats and more about fun!
Tricks for treats! Experts at Scholastic.com noted that 50% of children offered candy or a toy would grab at the toy! It’s a blast to see kids get excited by ghastly fun stuff like plastic worms and spiders—a candy bar just doesn’t compare. If you’re a parent who’s concerned about childhood obesity, the few cents more that it takes to offer inexpensive treats is worth it. Glow sticks and bracelets are huge favorites. Other winners include gel pens, pencils and crayons. For the littlest goblins, try bubbles, inexpensive toy cars, team cards, and action figures. Do so and your home will be declared the go-to place for the best trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Candy is boring compared to toys!
Dress up! Don’t leave it to the kids to have all the fun. Dress up in your Halloween worst! You and your kids can levitate the experience and get really creative. Lots of sparkles on sneakers, extra-ghoulish face paint, and fake plastic teeth are hilarious. Take a photo of all the trick-or-treaters and give a non-food prize for the scariest, funniest, and most-original costume.
Smart stuff! There’s a reason that Halloween candy is so cheap—it’s mainly made from cheap sugar, artificial colors, flavorings and preservatives. For natural and better sweet treats stock up on small boxes of raisins, 100-calorie packs of fig or shortbread cookies, little baggies of jellybeans or gummy bears, and even small lollipops. How about microwave popcorn (light) and mini granola bars? Pop off the evening with sugar-free gum. Chewing it after eating a sugary treat helps scare off cavities.
Out of sight! There’s a reason Halloween is so deadly for a diet. The candy that gets collected by the kids – or the goodies that are left over from a lack of trick-or-treaters – tends to lie around until it gets eaten! So, in this case, the adage should be: out of sight, out of mouth! Round up your extra candy, give your kids the choice of their favorite five pieces, and then dump the rest! You can ever try bribery by giving your children a “point” for every piece of candy they “sell” back to you. Points can be redeemed for a new toy, download or CD. If you can’t bear tossing the leftovers, pack ‘em up and donate them to a local hospital or shelter.
Boo-tiful idea! After more than 60 years, kids are still trick or treating for UNICEF. Never heard of UNICEF? It’s the United Nations Children's Fund and it does amazing things to help kids around the world. It’s so easy—just order your fundraising kit, and on Halloween, go door-to-door “Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF.” Or, you can scare up a few friends for a UNICEF fund-raising party.\
Scholastic.com also suggests working with your child's teacher or a local community group to create posters and organize kids into "Halloween heroes" who will go door to door to raise money for a local charity.
Hey, we all enjoy the thrills of trick-or treating and dressing up, but now it won't be "all about the candy."
Susan Burke March is Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator, who as eDiets Chief Nutritionist promotes the dietary health and wellbeing of consumers worldwide.