Halloween – the good, the bad and the ugly: how to make Halloween healthier for you and the kids

by Trudy Williams

According to Forbes*, it is predicted that "the average US household will spend about $125 on candy, costumes, decorations and other Halloween related items". The total spending? About "$11.3 billion in 2014"! 

The value and numbers aren't know for Australia.

The costumes, pumpkins and Halloween lollies and other promotions in a variety of shops indicate that Halloween has firmed its grip on young Australians. It's celebrated on Friday 31st October.

Love it or not, there worrying aspects to trick or treating that I have addressed here. I also offer a few non-lolly treat ideas to satisfy the little monsters who knock on your door.

To download a pdf version to read later or share, click here. Be patient while it arrives.

When you think about it, many things that go with Halloween rub against parents’ best efforts to keep their children safe and healthy.

On Halloween, parents let the kids:

  • knock on strangers’ doors
accept candy, treats and lollies from strangers
  • accept unwrapped food from unknown people
  • walk in the evening light, perhaps unsupervised by adults to be frightened by ‘monsters’, cobwebs and other scary items, and
  • eat truckloads of sugary sweets before bed

But like it or not, the celebration of Halloween is gaining momentum in Australia in a big, big way.

So how do you prevent or avoid the aftermath of sugar overload?

As a treater, you could be left with a pantry full of temptation if you stock up with too many sweet treats for the number of little monsters that knock on your door for ‘trick or treat’.

To avoid a pantry full of problem food, think of the entire street and neighbourhood as the lolly-store on Halloween. Therefore you don’t need to have an endless choice of different sweets in the basket of treats. Be sensible and only buy one bag or pre-wrapped lollies or candies to give out. The less variety, the better. Variety increases risk of over-indulgence.

But Halloween food treats don’t have to be candies and lollies.

Some easy, healthier alternatives include:

  • snack-size bags of coloured or plain popcorn
  • seasonal fruits
  • mini-packs of dried fruit
  • snack bags of pretzel shapes
  • fruit juice boxes
  • small tubs of preserved fruit
  • frozen fruit juice sticks

Never feel awkward or bad about fresh or dried fruit treats because for some children, fruit is a treat that they rarely get at home.

Some children are on special diets due to diabetes or allergies and food intolerances, so consider what treats to have for these kids on Halloween. Non-food treats make it easy.

Best of all, start thinking beyond food treats on Halloween for all kids and let the neighbours add sweet candies to the treat bags.

What can you have in the treat basket instead of food on Halloween?

A few good inexpensive non-food treats for young ones on Halloween include:

  • balloons
  • sparklers
  • leftover international coins from your travels
  • curious hand-made origami shapes
  • paper plane (pattern or folded)
  • face and hair sparkle dust for a magic sprinkle
  • pencils, crayons, pens
  • crazy rubbers (erasers)
  • crayons
  • stickers

Still stuck for ideas? Go to a cheap shop and grab a bag of party favours.

What to do when your kids arrive home with bags stuffed full of lollies?

You’ve got two clear choices.

  1. Let them eat the lot at once and with a bit of luck the may feel unwell with a tummy ache afterwards, which might out them off sweets for some time.
  2. Ask them to have a small amount and put the rest of the bag aside for another day.

My thoughts? Let them choose.

If they want to put the bag aside, and put most of the contents into a container that’s not see-through. "What you don’t see doesn’t tempt you so easily" applies to little ones and adults.

Out of sight, out of mind means that both you and the kids have a better chance of forgetting the lolly hoard exists.

A bag in plain sight or a see-through, clear-view bottle or jar full of lollies is a guaranteed way to trick and trip both you and the kids into eating them more often.

By the way, if visiting little monsters didn’t thin out your stockpile of lollies and sweets, dispose of the pile in the bin rather than have the lollies lure you into a feast that you will regret.

What are your thoughts on Halloween?

Is this a celebration that you worry about? How do you manage the sugar overload for both you and the little monsters? What would you suggest in place of candies and lollies for the visiting kids?

Email me with your thoughts and ideas to add to this list for Halloween.

Halloween. Love it or not, it looks like it’s here to stay.

* Link to Forbes is annoying. Move past the advertisement by clicking 'continue to site' once you've landed.

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