halloweenEvery year children of all ages get dressed up, grab their basket, and run from door to door asking the neighbors for sweet, chewy, sugary, candy. And with all the loot that’s handed out, it’s a wonder that tooth decay and childhood obesity are more rampant than they already are.

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative this year to hand out on Halloween night, we have a great list of ideas to choose from. The article below was originally posted on Palmetto Health’s website and has some great suggestions for healthy alternatives to Halloween treats.

Healthy Alternatives to Halloween Candy

The appearance of ghosts, goblins, and witches can only mean one thing — Halloween is just around the corner! With childhood obesity on the rise in the US — the rate of childhood obesity has doubled in the past 20 years — what can be done with the buckets of candy to be collected?

Nutrition and Halloween aren’t two words that are normally seen together, but it is possible to promote healthy eating habits during the Halloween season.

Here are some tips:

  • Fill kids’ bellies with a nutritious meal before they head out for trick-or-treating. This way, they are less likely to fill up on empty calorie foods. Giving kids healthy foods first will reduce the chances of overindulgence.
  • Pass out non-food treats such as those found at children’s birthday parties: pencils, note pads, bubbles, noisemakers, etc. If you have leftovers, these treats can easily be stored for use the following year. Just be sure not to pass out choking hazards to young children (coins, rings, etc).
  • Granola bars, pretzels, cheese and cracker packs, sugar free gum, packets of instant hot chocolate, raisins, and nuts are some healthy alternatives. (Note that raisins and nuts are choking hazard for young children). [*Dr. Marvin’s Note: Raisin’s are not much different from candy, as they are sticky and loaded with sugar. Sugar-free gum is normally sweetened with an artificial sweetener, and who knows what’s in most hot chocolate packets…]
  • If you must pass out candy bars, get the smaller fun sized ones. And only give one or two — not a handful — to your trick-or-treaters. Some candy bars have less fat and calories than others – read the labels before you buy.
  • Ration the loot: Total restriction of candy isn’t healthy – anything that is restricted or denied tends to take on greater appeal. On the other hand, allowing your child to devour an entire bag of candy is a sure bet for a stomachache. Stick to small servings by only allowing your child one or two pieces of candy per sitting as a dessert after a healthy meal. A few days after Halloween, put the candy out of sight and out of mind You can ration out the treats later.
  • Buy your Halloween candy at the last minute to avoid tempting yourself and other family members. Buy less than you think you will need.
  • Beware of cavities: Halloween candy, as well as any sticky, sugary food, can easily promote tooth decay. Make sure children brush their teeth well after a candy snack and before going to bed.

Keeping in mind common sense, a little forethought and moderation, Halloween can remain good, scary, delicious fun for children and adults alike!

Brought to you by the pediatric residents at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.

You can read this article in it’s original form at http://www.palmettohealth.org/body.cfm?id=777