Celebrate Halloween the Healthy Way

Janis Hunter
Home & Garden Information Center

Halloween is a festive time when kids enjoy dressing up and getting treats. What will you be doing on Halloween – taking your kids trick-or-treating, passing out treats to little neighborhood ghosts and goblins, or hosting a party?

Going Trick-or-Treating

If you take your kids trick-or-treating, serve them a healthy meal beforehand to reduce their urge to snack on goodies. Give them trick-or-treat bags appropriate to their size. Limit them to a two or three block radius so that treats will most likely come from friends and neighbors, and the moderate amount will be manageable. Instruct kids to wait until they get home to eat their treats so you can inspect them first. This also will help manage how much they consume.

Let kids enjoy their goodies in limited amounts, and teach them ways that sweets can fit into a healthy eating plan. Put the candy in a kitchen cabinet or other out-of-sight place that only you can reach. Limit them to eating one piece of candy a day at an agreed-upon time, such as with a glass of milk as an after-school snack or for dessert at dinner. For more information on what to do with the goodies your kids bring home, refer to HGIC 4112, Healthy Halloween Treats.

Passing Out Treats to Trick-or-Treaters

This year when trick-or-treaters ring your bell, offer them healthful food treats, non-food items, and small toys that promote physical activity. Apples, bananas, oranges, and other fresh fruits are no longer safe options, but you don’t have to serve high-calorie candy.

Healthful Food Treats: Give kids individually wrapped items that are lower in fat and sugar than candy and may provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. Choices include: snack packets of dried fruit; baked pretzels, nuts* and seeds; mini boxes of raisins or chocolate-covered raisins; single-serve boxes of ready-to-eat cereal; cereal bars; trail mix; individual juice drinks (100% juice), pudding, applesauce, or Jell-O with fruit; fig cookies; packages of low-fat crackers (e.g. animal crackers, gold fish, graham crackers, and crackers with cheese or peanut* butter filling); Cracker Jacks; 100-calorie packs of various products; turkey or beef jerky, and sugar-free gum.

If you decide to pass out candy treats, choose bite-size ones that are lower in fat and sugar, such as: gummy candies made with real fruit juice; Starburst; 3 Musketeers; 100 Grand Bar; Milky Way; Butterfinger; Raisinets and York Peppermint Patties. Choose the healthier dark chocolate versions whenever possible.

Non-Food Treats: Kids enjoy items typically given in a birthday goodie bag: pocket-sized games; stickers; pencils; pencil toppers; fancy erasers; bookmarks; crayons; children’s comic books and magazines; glow sticks; temporary tattoos and small toys. Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes) and coupons from a yogurt store or juice bar are other good options.

Toys That Promote Activity: Small, inexpensive toys (jump ropes, bouncy balls, plastic or foam fliers, and sidewalk chalk for drawing hopscotch or foursquare games) will get kids up and moving to burn all those extra calories they consume.

Hosting a Party or Dinner

Refer to HGIC 4112, Healthy Halloween Treats for directions to turn familiar, nutritious foods into Halloween-themed items like: Bony Fingers; Jack-O-Lantern Burgers; Monsterwiches; Brains With Blood and Pus, and Witches’ Brew. This fact sheet also contains party activities that encourage kids to be more physically active.

*Have some treats available for children who may have allergies to peanuts or other nuts.

Page maintained by: Home & Garden Information Center

This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.