Halloween is such a fun and festive time for children. It’s their chance to live out a fantasy and dress like their favorite hero, cartoon character, historical or even ghoulish figure. However, with the night of dress up comes an evening filled with high sugar consumption and maybe even consistent unhealthy eating leading up to the big night.
When the trick or treating ends, children can’t wait to count and eat the stacks of candy they scored, and parents are left to deal with the aftermath of the sugar crash.
As a parent, you have every right to fear the crash and shudder at the amount of sugar they’re inhaling!
According to The American Heart Association (AHA), they recommend children between 4 and 8 years of age consume no more than 3 teaspoons (12 grams) of added sugar per day and that tweens or teens consume no more than 5 to 8 teaspoons (20-32 grams) of added sugar per day.
Let’s put this into perspective. Eating just one fun sized packet of Skittles (contains 14.5g of sugar) equates to more than the daily allotment of sugar for a child and over half the daily amount for a teen. Talk about a frightful amount of sugar, not to mention the lethargy they’ll be experiencing the next day!
So the big question remains, how do we manage sugar intake over Halloween without completely ruining the fun?
1. Prepare nutritious sugar alternatives before the trick or treating begins
Once blood sugar is low and we feel like we’re starving, it’s too late. We will want carbs and sugar to get our blood sugar and energy back up again. We are also susceptible to overeating when we are in this state. Prepare a nutritious and filling meal before they leave and have prepared items ready to go upon their return to optimize the chance of your child or teen eating more nutritiously.
Food options for them to eat before they leave the house:
- Good fats: Olives, avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, whole eggs, unsweetened coconut flakes, coconut oil, grass fed butter or ghee, nuts, seeds, beans, grass fed meats, pasture raised poultry, raw non-cow cheese like goat or sheep varieties (manchego, goat cheddar, chèvre, etc.)
- Whole Fruit: Berries tend to have the lowest amounts of sugar, apples (and fruits in general) contain many antioxidants, and while dates have a high natural sugar content, they are also said to be anti-inflammatory, promote digestive and heart health, and boost brain health due to the vitamin B6 content.
- “Get Off Sugar” Snacks:
- Veggie sticks (precut by you or the store) like jicama, cucumbers, carrots, red peppers and/or celery with a “good” fatty spread like tapenade (olive spread), hummus, tahini (sesame seed spread), guacamole or white bean dip
- Celery sticks with nut or seed butter
- Baked sweet potato with coconut oil or butter and cinnamon
- Olives with manchego (sheep) cheese
- Nuts and/or Seeds combined with superfoods like chia seeds, goji berries, mulberries, coconut flakes or whatever you prefer
2. Candy buy-back system
A simple way to get children to part with their candy is to offer something in exchange. After your kids have sorted through all of their goodies, let them choose 5 to 10 pieces of candy they want to keep. Then they can use the remaining candy to exchange for money, new toys, or another prize you wish to offer. More than likely they’d prefer to have the latest app game than a pile of candy.
And isn’t collecting the candy most of the fun anyways?
3. Throw a Halloween party instead
Rather than sending your kids out to collect obscene amounts of sugary treats, why not bring the adventure to your home by hosting a Halloween party for your children and their friends. This gives you the advantage of limiting the candy available while providing healthy, but still festive alternatives.
4. Send leftover candy to the troops overseas
Another great option is to donate leftover candy to the troops overseas! Make a day out of assembling care packages with the remaining candy, personalized notes, pictures, and more. This beautiful gesture will put many smiles on the faces of soldiers overseas, and the act will be more gratifying to your children than any piece of candy could ever provide.
A great organization to donate to is Operation Gratitude. Last year they donated over 533,000 pounds of candy!
If you’re pressed for time, know you’ve done a great service by dropping off your candy at a local dentist office that’s part of the Halloween Buy Back Program. Your donation will give you $1 per pound, and all your candy will be sent to the troops.