Parents oftentimes ask me how to turn a candy-focused holiday into a healthier Halloween. How can you compete with candy? Here are a few tips on making this holiday a bit healthier while maintaining the fun factor of kids, candy and costumes - oh my!
Kids: You may not realize it, but there are TONS of Halloween traditions that celebrate fruits and veggies! Going to a pumpkin patch, a corn maze or attending a harvest farm festival is an exciting way to show kids where fruits and vegetables come from. Apple dunking, carving a pumpkin, making pumpkin ice cream or roasting pumpkin seeds are perfect ways to shift your kid’s attention to healthier holiday activities. I also like to utilize nutritious food crafts like making a fruit mummy or pumpkins out of tangerines and celery (see pics).
Before the kiddos head out to go trick-or-treating, fill their bellies up with a healthy and hearty treat, like this nutritious version of a caramel apple bar filled with protein toppings (e.g., nuts, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds). And don’t forget the drinks! Have your kids make fresh squeezed orange juice and add plastic spiders or eyeballs for a spooky fruit drink!
Costumes: Dressing up may be the best part of Halloween for kids and their picture-taking parents! To encourage a healthy Halloween, try hosting a neighborhood costume contest. First prize goes to a ‘Healthy Halloween Costume’ and kids can dress up as nutritious foods. I have had kids dress up in banana, pumpkin, cheese stick and yogurt costumes; they were hilarious and super creative! I even had a school-aged kiddo dress up as the Hamburglar (the thief from McDonald's commercials), and he said he was “stealing fast food and giving out whole food”…yup, he won that year! Second place can go to a ‘Happy Halloween Costume’ for kids who dress up as something funny or cute, like superheroes, emojis or dinosaurs. Third place can go to a ‘Team Halloween Costume’ for kids who dress up together, like a cookie and Cookie Monster, or a clever costume that consists of a child in a wheelchair and their parent!
Candy Considerations: Every family makes their own decisions about what to do with their Halloween candy. Some donate the candy, others put one piece in their lunchbox each day until Christmas break, and others like the idea of Switch Witch. Regardless of your strategy, it may be difficult for some children to give up or trade their hard-earned candy. To help families manage the candy battle, consider offering healthy snacks like small packages of raisins, popcorn and sunflower seeds or organic fruit roll ups, cheese sticks and trail mix. You will be pleasantly surprised by how many kids choose these snacks over candy; especially those who didn’t get a chance to eat before they went trick-or-treating! You can also pass out toys instead of candy. I recommend cute (but cheap) toys, like Halloween-themed coloring pads, stickers, bubbles, glow in the dark balls and vampire teeth! By offering these candy-free treats you are supporting children with food allergies and other medical conditions. There is a national organization called the Teal Pumpkin Project that encourages families to have non-food options so all trick-or-treaters can participate in this festive night!
We hope our tips on kids, costumes and candy makes this year’s Halloween celebration healthier! What are some of your family’s Halloween traditions? Do your kids have a favorite food-themed costume? Will you support the Teal Pumpkin Project this year? Let us know and use the tags #ezpzfun #Halloween #tealpumpkinproject.
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz