Halloween is a fun day full of costumes, imagination and, of
course, tons of candy. Don’t fear, your spooky soiree can be both fun and
healthy with a few simple tips.
“Halloween is just one day a year, and it’s what kids eat
every day that has the most impact on their nutrition and health,” says Karen
Ansel, MS, RDN, CDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Instead
of making candy and sweet treats off-limits, serve healthy snacks first, and
bring out the sweet treats later when the kids have already filled up on more
nutritious foods. Ansel recommends choosing orange foods for the healthy
options, like carrots or baked sweet potato fries. Try adding green guacamole
“slime” for a dose of heart-healthy unsaturated fat.
For a heartier choice,
Sarah Krieger, MPH, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and
Dietetics, suggests black and orange tortilla roll-ups made by layering lean
roast beef and low-fat provolone or mozzarella cheese on a sun-dried tomato
tortilla. (For a veggie option, use refried black beans instead of roast beef.)
Practice Portion Control
For those special sweet treats that you do allow, provide
small portions. Choose fun-size — instead of full-size — candies, miniature
cupcakes or muffins, and smaller cookies and brownies (think 2 inches). Serve
each child rather than leaving treats out on a table in order to regulate how
many servings each child consumes.
Make Your Own
Traditional Halloween candy is high in calories, sugar and
fat, and provides little nutrition. Make your own treats that have some
nutritional value by including a source of fruits or vegetables, whole grain, or
low-fat dairy. Try popcorn tossed with cinnamon and sugar or chocolate-covered
fresh fruit as healthier alternatives to candy. Ansel recommends pumpkin
treats, like fiber-packed cinnamon-roasted pumpkin seeds or vitamin A-rich
pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins.
Krieger suggests the following healthy, Halloween-themed
- Warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks
- Smoothies made with low-fat vanilla yogurt, canned
pumpkin, cinnamon, banana and ice
- Apple slices with a fruit dip made with yogurt
mixed with canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice
Get Everyone Up and
Make sure that the party isn’t all about the food. Plan fun activities
and games to get the kids moving, like a costume parade or relay race. Ansel
suggests a game called “Monster Tag” — one child is the monster and whomever he
or she tags turns into a zombie.
Limit Leftover Candy
“When the fun of Halloween night is over and the kids are
left with bags of candy, encourage ‘candy control’ without depriving the
trick-or-treaters completely,” says Krieger. Try putting the candy away in a place
that is out of sight and you may find that the kids forget about it after a few
days. Krieger also suggests mixing leftover candy with whole-grain cereal, nuts
and a few pretzels to make a homemade trail mix for snacks.
Make this Halloween an opportunity to teach your child to
enjoy special treats in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.