Every year about this time, when spooky ads abound and grocery aisles are fully stocked with individual-sized candy, you might be pondering whether you should stock up on the sugar-laden treats for the neighborhood kids or should you look for healthier alternatives that won’t negatively impact oral health and won’t evoke a look of disgust from the children?
You can find tooth-friendly healthy food treats and fun non-food gizmos that will please the most ardent candy-lover – you just have to spend some time looking for the right “healthy Halloween” items. These healthy treats that you drop into trick or treaters’ Halloween buckets can be delicious, good for them and don’t have to start with ‘c’ and end in ‘y’.
From the Pantry
Gone are the days when you could bake a batch of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies or popcorn balls and pass them out. Most parents are hesitant to let their kids enjoy anything that is not individually wrapped. But there are plenty of individual portion treats to satisfy even the most discriminating costumed child.
Favorites from the pantry include:
- Juice boxes
- Mini water bottles (they need them to help wash down the candy while trick or treating)
- Plain cookies (graham crackers, Teddy Grahams, vanilla wafers, etc.)
- Baked chips, baked tortilla chips
- Lowfat granola or cereal bars
- Sugar-free gum
Believe it or not, a few random non-candy items in the sack are fun to discover for both parents and kids. Moms and dads delight in finding nutritious nibbles that they can borrow to put in Johnny’s lunchbox. The kids like the variety and often end up eating or drinking the nutritious treats while trick or treating for respite from all the candy.
Party Store Goodies
If you opt to generate a little more enthusiasm from your neighborhood gang, try the numerous non-food items that kids love. These items will often generate bigger smiles than the typical sugar-laden candy that is the norm on Halloween. Keep your eye out for small inexpensive gadgets and things that kids love to collect such as:
- Decorative pencils
- Small rubber balls
- Rubber ghosts, goblins, witches
- Waxed lips
- Glow sticks
- Key chains
- Tic-tac-toe or other small games
- Coloring books
So How Bad is a Bucket of Candy?
OK, so you decide to wear your parent hat, remembering fondly the thrill of your own childhood when you came home after Halloween night and spilled out all your goodies onto the living room floor. Why would you want to deny kids this same memorable experience? Granted, there is nothing wrong with candy in small doses. The problem is that more kids today are overweight or obese and it is a serious health problem. Is Halloween the time or place to correct this national problem? No, but it sure doesn’t hurt to sprinkle a few non-candy items to help reduce the temptation to pig-out on candy.
If candy you must, choose non-chocolate types that contain fewer calories without caffeine-like stimulants. Hard candies, jelly types, licorice are good examples of candy without the extra fat calories of chocolate and sans potential stimulants.
A Dose of Parental Guidance
As a parent, it is best to establish a plan of how all this candy will be consumed. Ideally, the distribution of the candy will be the parent’s responsibility, otherwise, you may find meals skipped in preference to candy fests. Dole it out in moderation. If you have a very active child who is of normal weight, you can be more generous but not so much that it affects their appetite. Remember, kids are growing and need lots of nutrients that are not found in candy. Candy needs to be considered a treat, to be consumed after satisfying the body’s need for vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
SOURCE: WedMD.com, TealPumpkinProject.com