healthy halloween

Finding the Sweet Spot on Halloween


When I was a child, I remember being crazy about Halloween. One year, I changed into three different costumes to trick-or-treat around my neighborhood multiple times. My mission? More candy of course!

Looking back, it wasn’t really the candy so much as the joy of getting candy that had me so excited. I could barely eat a quarter of my loot. Most of it sat around in a bag for months until my mom finally threw it away.

Fast forward to today, I’m a nutritionist and parent. I want my kids to enjoy Halloween, but I also want to moderate the amount of candy consumed. Did you know, the average child eats about 3 cups of sugar during Halloween(1)? Yikes! As a nation, we are already consuming way too much sugar, about 49 lbs per year for the average child 12 and under(2) . Most of this is in the form of added sugars, hiding in foods that seem harmless like spaghetti sauce, ready-to-eat cereals, and bread.(3)

So how can we take a moderate approach to Halloween? Have a plan for the extra candy. Let kids pick out a few of their favorite pieces and enjoy it for the next week. Then, have a plan to purge the remainder. Some ways to get rid of the leftovers:

  • Give it to the Switch Witch - a good witch who is invited to swap out candy for a gift. This is ideal for younger kids.

  • Donate to the Blue Star Moms

  • Check if your dentist will “buy back” the candy. Our dentist gives kids $1 per pound!

Consider offering some non-edible treats to the kids who come to your door. The downside - a lot of plastic that’ll likely wind up in the bin. The upside - kids will play with them rather than eat them. Also, kids with food allergies can have a safe treat. You can learn more about treats for kids with allergies at the Teal Pumpkin project. Glow sticks, spider rings, bouncy balls, Halloween stampers, stickers, putty and slime, and airplane gliders are treats that are met with a smile. Many of these can be purchased online in bulk or found locally at a party supplies store like Boswell’s.

Edibles free of high fructose corn syrup and dyes include:

  • Honey sticks - still a sweetener but not a refined one

  • Individual popcorn bags

  • Organic fruit chews like Black Forest Organic Halloween gummies (I found these at Walgreens) or Annie’s Bunnies and Bats.

  • Halloween-themed veggie chips

  • Enjoy Life Chocolate Squares - sweetened with cane sugar and allergy friendly

  • Wholesome brand ghost and skull-shaped organic lollipops

Many of these treats are available at Whole Foods

Set your kids up for a great Halloween. Give them a healthy early dinner and then, let them enjoy one of the most fun holidays of the year!