Halloween is approaching and so is the time for sweets and lots of treats… too many treats. But does this time of the year have to be all about candy? Sure it’s fun for kids to enjoy the extra sweets, but all too often the holiday becomes a time of too many sweets, sugar crashes, and not feeling the greatest the next day… for adults and kids.
Here are some alternative strategies to celebrate Halloween in healthier ways.
1. Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project
Not all children are able to participate in Halloween due to food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project allows families and children with food allergies to participate in the festivities in a safe way.
You don’t need to have a child with a food allergy to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Participation is a great way to show your child that there are many different ways to celebrate Halloween. It also promotes acceptance and is a great opportunity to learn more about what living with food allergies feels like. To take the Teal Pumpkin Project pledge, gain access to free materials visit, or look at ideas for non-food treats, click here.
2. Donate a portion of your family’s collected treats!
Did you know you can send your candy to our troops by donating it to Operation Gratitude or a similar organization? If this is something you’d like to do, make a plan with your children prior to going trick-or-treating. You can explain how the candy donation will make a great impact on the troops and help brighten their spirits. Reassure your children that they will still be able to enjoy some candy – you don’t have to donate ALL of it.
There are a lot of ways to have fun giving back, make the Halloween more meaningful, and create a fun family tradition. Here are some ideas for making the most out of your donation:
- If you have toddlers: Keep a few safe treat options and donate all of the candy your child isn’t old enough for yet.
- If you have school-age children: Consider creating a friendly competition between friends or siblings – who can collect and donate the most candy?
- If you have pre-teens and teens: After the candy is collected, involve the family in a guessing game. Just by looking, how many mini chocolate bars do you think you have? Once a number is guessed, count the pieces. The difference gets donated. (Example: If the guessed number is 15 and the actual number is 25, then 10 pieces get donated. Continue the game with various types of candy.)
For DO’s and DON’Ts, donation information, and more ways to get involved, click here.
3. Make a Pancake Jack-O-Lantern
Pancake jack-o-lanterns are a yummy way to start your Halloween festivities.
Use your favorite pancake recipe and mix food coloring into the batter. Pour the batter onto your griddle, making sure to add a stem at the top. Cook your pancakes as usual. Once cooled, cut out the eyes, nose and mouth. Or, you can simply add blueberries or fruit pieces to create the jack-o-lantern face.
4. Use your candy in a different way!
Make plans to use the candy in different ways to lessen the urge to eat all of it right away. Share the plan with your family and ask them for input on various ways to use the candy.
Some options might be:
• Freeze chocolate pieces and add a few pieces into fruit smoothies in the coming weeks
• Melt the frozen pieces down into fun molds for upcoming holidays
• Shave the frozen pieces with a lemon zester to make a quick topping for ice cream, pancakes and other desserts
5. Select a smaller trick-or-treat bag and set clear expectations.
Consider giving your child a trick-or-treat bag that will only hold an appropriate amount of candy. Before trick-or-treating, set clear expectations with your child about how much candy will be allowed. You could establish a set number of pieces that can be eaten Halloween night, and then set an acceptable weekly number until the rest of the candy is gone.
A conversation regarding expectations before the candy even makes it home might lessen the struggle that sometimes ensues afterward. A number that is too small might lead the child to try to get more, while a number that is too big could lead to an unclear understanding of limitations. Finding a balance is the key. It might be beneficial to include your child in coming up with the number. If your child is an active participant in setting the limitation, he or she may be more likely to follow it.
Remember, just because the candy was collected in one night does not mean the candy needs to be eaten in one night.
A healthy Halloween doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a special snack during this special time of year. Incorporating these ideas can help show children that we can treat ourselves, while still learning how to use portion control. Teaching portion control at a young age can help children in their daily eating habits and helps them become mindful about what they are eating.