Remember Charlie Brown’s disappointment when he received a rock in his trick-or-treat bag? Nobody wants to disappoint the little ghosts and goblins that show up on Halloween. But there’s no need to load the kiddies up with mountains of sugar, either.
There is a happy medium between sugar-laden traditional Halloween treats and Charlie Brown’s rock. Without depriving the little ones of Halloween or sweet treats, you can mix it up by offering some healthier alternatives that can still be called treats.
Devin Alexander, Celebrity Chef and NY Times Best Selling Author of The Biggest Loser Cookbook Series, suggests these fun treats:
- Juice boxes or water bottles (if your budget can handle it). You might worry that your house will get egged or TP’d, but think about it: kids are going door to door, often racing to collect tons of candy. They get really thirsty. Handing out a beverage may actually be much better received than you think.
- Boxes of pretzels or baked chips. Though they are not as great as water or 100 percent orange juice, they’re relatively low in calories and fat, and they aren’t pure sugar.
- Bags of nuts or dried fruit. Though they are calorie dense, they contain “good” fats and natural sugars. Just be sure to buy the dry roasted nuts, not “roasted,” which have added oils.
- Fruit snacks. They’re sweet and seem similar to gummy candy, but with a fraction of the sugar and fat.
- Tootsie pops or other lollipops (great if you’re on a tight budget). Though they are virtually pure sugar, they take a long time to eat, so people tend to eat fewer. Plus, they are very low in fat.
- Sugar-free gum is another great, virtually calorie-free option. Kids LOVE gum.
- Inexpensive toys. Head to your 99 cent store. They often carry big packs of plastic rings (as in kid-friendly jewelry), necklaces, military figurines, etc. Play-Doh (TM) is always a great option that might be found there as well.
Prime your taste buds, because Ms. Alexander will also share a delicious pumpkin-based recipe in an upcoming article on Care2.
Next: More Trick-or-Treat Ideas, plus How to Handle Your Kids’ Deluge of Treats
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The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) reports that in 2010, about 215,000 children in the U.S. under age 20 had type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Most children have type 1 diabetes. As obesity rates in children continue to soar, type 2 diabetes, a disease that used to be seen primarily in adults over age 45, is becoming more common in young people. For these reasons alone, it’s important that people are aware of healthy alternatives to candy that can be distributed to Trick or Treaters on Halloween.
Instead of putting candy in Halloween trick-or-treat bags, consider giving out some of these fun and/or healthier alternatives suggested by the NDEP:
- temporary tattoos
- healthy snacks like small boxes of yogurt-covered raisins are a sweet and healthier treat
- small containers of modeling clay
- sugarless gum
By switching out candy for any of these “treats,” you can be confident that what you are giving to the ghouls and goblins at your door this Halloween is fun, safe, and healthy.
The NDEP provides resources and information for parents of children with diabetes as well as for teens who have been diagnosed with the disease to help them stay healthy all year long. You can learn more at YourDiabetesInfo.org.
Melissa Hawthorne, MS, RD, LD, of The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa in Houston, specializes in weight management, nutrition wellness, nutrition and pregnancy, diabetes management, pediatric nutrition, vitamin and mineral supplementation, eating disorders, and sports nutrition. She adds these candy-free treats:
- bouncy balls
- vampire teeth
- individual packets of crayons
- pencil toppers
- glow sticks
- rubber spider rings
Next: How to Handle Your Kids’ Deluge of Treats
Registered dietician Erin Webley, of the Healthy Weight Center at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, provides these tips to manage the treats your own little trick-or-treaters score.
- Be consistent with healthy snacks and meals around Halloween. Make sure you continue to offer the healthy options first and then reward children with a treat.
- As soon as you return from trick-or-treating, separate out the candy the children don’t like and just throw it in the garbage so there is less temptation later on. You can also donate it to agencies that ship candy overseas to our service men and women.
- It’s okay to offer your child one or two pieces a day, but offer it with a healthy snack first, because candy is not nutritionally balanced or even satisfying as a snack.
- Think about where you keep the candy. Out of sight is out of mind but do not hide it. Candy should not be forbidden. After a few weeks, when children tend to focus less on the candy, you can start to throw it out in the garbage for good.
- Increase your child’s level of physical activity to make up for the extra caloric intake. Take more walks or bike rides around this time.
- Put your Halloween candy in the freezer so it can be enjoyed throughout the year.