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Don’t Be Tricked by Treats: How to Have a Healthier Halloween

Inside: Halloween is the kickoff to holiday feasting season. Here are our tips to keep from being tricked by Halloween treats and have a healthier Halloween.

healthier halloweenIt’s October, and that means Halloween is just weeks away. Halloween seems to be the kickoff to holiday feasting season, so read on to find out how to keep from being tricked by Halloween treats and have a healthier Halloween.

Don’t Be Tricked by Halloween Treats

I’m going to be honest with you here. I am a sucker for seasonal candy. There’s just something about it. I never pick up candy at gas stations or at the check-out counter at the grocery store. I’m not even tempted to walk down the regular candy aisle.

But slap on some seasonal décor, or offer me a limited time flavor, and you might as well take my money right now. (In my defense, the peanut butter to chocolate ratio is way better in Reese’s Pumpkins, Trees, and Eggs than it is in the regular cups!)

Obviously, I’m not the only one who enjoys seasonal candies. Why else would stores put it out on their shelves nearly two months before the big day?

Know What You’re Eating

Whether you are taking kids out trick-or-treating or just passing out candy; you will, no doubt, be faced with temptation. It’s fine to enjoy Halloween treats, but it’s important to stay mindful. With the little “fun size” and “mini” treats, it’s easy to end up eating more than you realize. All those little treats add up, and you can end up eating more calories with the fun-sized candy bars than you would with a full size.

Let’s take a look at the calorie count in some of the most popular “fun size” Halloween candies:

  • Reese’s PB Cup – 110 calories/cup
  • Peanut M&M’s – 90 calories/serving
  • Butterfinger – 85 calories/serving
  • Skittles – 80 calories/serving
  • Snickers – 80 calories/serving
  • Twix – 80 calories/serving
  • Whoppers – 100 calories/serving
  • Baby Ruth – 85 calories/serving
  • 3 Musketeers – 65 calories/serving
  • Plain M&M’s – 75 calories/serving

Running one mile burns roughly 100 calories. Keep that in mind the next time you reach for a little treat out of the candy dish! Picture each candy bar you eat as another mile you would need to run to burn off those extra calories. If that isn’t enough to keep temptation at bay, keep reading for more tips on how you can stay healthier this Halloween.

Passing Out Candy

  1. Buy candy you don’t like. If you know you’ll have trouble staying out of the candy dish, why make it harder on yourself by buying something tempting?
  2. Don’t buy any candy until at least the week, if not the day, of Halloween, and don’t open the bag until it’s time for trick-or-treaters.
  3. Buy less than what you think you need to avoid having leftovers.
  4. If you buy candy in advance or have leftovers, keep it out of sight and out of mind. A high cabinet or the back of the freezer can be good places to stash it.
  5. Stay busy during trick-or-treat hours so you aren’t mindlessly eating out of the candy bowl in between doorbell rings.
  6. Consider handing out healthier alternatives such as:
  • Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Flavored milk straws
  • Halloween-themed pencils, pencil toppers, crayons, or erasers
  • Scary stickers
  • Plastic rings and bracelets
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Glow sticks
  • Bouncy balls

Going Trick-or-Treating

  1. Set limits on candy for everyone (that includes both adults and children) ahead of time. Allow kids to have candy after meals or with nutritious snacks. They are less likely to overeat on candy if they’re already full from more nutritious foods. The sugar rush is also blunted because absorption is slowed.
  2. Have your kids pick out a few favorites, and get rid of the rest. There are many options for dealing with extra candy. It can be donated or sent in care packages to soldiers serving overseas. Many dentists offer buy-back programs for extra Halloween candy. You could even offer to buy your child a toy or other non-food item in exchange for his or her extra candy. If your kids are resistant to this idea (and if they are young enough), you could try the “switch witch” or “candy fairy” approach. Once the kids are in bed, switch out the candy stash for a toy. Blaming the candy’s disappearance on a witch or fairy can help displace any anger the kids might feel.
  3. Counter some of that extra sugar with physical activity. Walk around town instead of driving, if possible. Consider active Halloween-themed games to play such as a costume parade, a monster dance party, costume tag, or a spooky scavenger hunt.
  4. Try to talk your kids into doing something else besides trick-or-treating. Go bowling or to an amusement park. The kids can still get a sweet treat, but won’t end up with a bag full of candy.
  5. Use Halloween as an opportunity to practice moderation and mindfulness. Teach your children to pick out only their favorites and make it worth it. Get rid of the so-so candies.
  6. Limit the size of the trick-or-treat bag. A smaller container fills up faster and can still be satisfying.

No Matter How You Celebrate…

Regardless of whether you are staying home or out knocking on doors with your little ghouls and goblins, it’s important to make sure to eat a filling and nutritious meal prior to the evening’s festivities. Halloween is a fun holiday for people of all ages, and a little indulgence is fine. But remember, Halloween is just one day. Any extra candy should be eaten in moderation or taken out of the house. Follow these tips, and make sure you and your family have a healthier start to this holiday season.

Sarah Wood, the author of this article, is available to speak to groups or hold classes on a variety of health-related topics such as nutrition, physical activity, healthy cooking, stress management, and wellness. To schedule an event or get more information, call 816-279-1691 or email woodsarah@missouri.edu.

Do you have any other suggestions for having a healthier Halloween? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood is a registered dietitian with a Master's Degree in Applied Health Sciences. Currently, she is a Nutrition and Health Education Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. When taking time for herself, she runs, travels, and creates art.

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