Compared to last year, more people will be celebrating Halloween this fall. An anticipated $3 billion is likely to be spent on candy in the U.S., and 66% of people plan to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. Combined with parties and access to far too many sweets at home and in the office, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy weight this season.
Halloween Health Tips
If you’re working on healthier eating habits, there are a number of ways you can stick to your diet and promote health within your family.
Healthy Tips for Halloween Parties
With Halloween parties are becoming more commonplace, consider these tips:
- Don’t hang around the food.Converse with others, participate in games and activities, and find ways to have fun that would make holding a plate inconvenient.
- Keep portion sizes small. Use a smaller plate if they’re available. Do not refill.
- Limit alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are empty calories, and they can leave you craving high-calorie foods in the morning.
- Limit carbonated drinks. Opt for water or juice without added sugar.
Tips for Halloween in Your Home
If you’re hosting a party, handing out treats to trick-or-treaters, or simply celebrating with your family at home, these tips can help you avoid bingeing on excess sugar:
- Hand out toys or savory snacks. Instead of candy, you might try handing out toys or packets of pretzels, trail mix, or popcorn. Take care to avoid choking hazards.
- Prepare your own spooky treats. Find some recipes for healthy Halloween party snacks, such as monster-themed wraps or a festive guacamole dip.
- Plan active activities. Plan games that get people up and moving. One fun game is “Zombie Tag,” in which one person is the zombie and anyone they tag joins them in chasing the rest of the players.
Tips for Families with Kids
If you have kids, you’re most likely going to go trick-or-treating. That can make encouraging healthy habits a challenge since you’ll have plenty of sweets just lying around. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid massive bingeing:
- Establish limits. Talk with your kids about the limits you want to set (no more than x number of items per day, must have a healthy snack with each piece of candy, etc.). Be clear about your limitations, and determine how they’ll be enforced.
- Educate your kids. Kids always want to know the “why” behind everything. Tell them why you’re setting limits on candy. For instance, you might mention dental health and cavities, which affect about 20% of all children aged 5 to 11.
- Encourage saving and sharing. Encourage your kids to share their trick-or-treating haul with others. Also emphasize that the less candy they eat now, the more they’ll have for later.
- Eat healthy. Make healthy meals and enforce eating real food before indulging in sweets. Eating something rich in nutrients can help curb sugar cravings.
- Use candy in creative ways. Using candy to make homemade treats can help limit bingeing while still allowing kids to enjoy a sweet treat with the family.
In some cases, you might try some subterfuge (hiding candy stashes, making a game out of it, using candy as an means of exchange for other things your kids want, etc.). Be open and clear about your reasons, though, and avoid a “spy vs. spy” situation.
Common Questions About Halloween and Health
When finding ways to have a healthy Halloween, you might have questions. These are the most common.
What can I eat instead of candy?
With their natural sugars, fruit can be a great substitute when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth. Savory snacks are also a good idea since it’s much easier to incorporate healthier foods. Mind the sodium, fat, and calories, though.
What can you give out on Halloween that is not candy?
If you plan on handing out treats to trick-or-treaters this year, some healthy trick or treat ideas include:
- Trail mix
- Fruit cups
- Small cereal boxes
- False teeth
- Small decks of cards
- Sugar-free gum
Again, be careful about choking hazards, and be sure to make other parents aware of potential allergens.
What is the healthiest chocolate?
In general, dark chocolate is the healthiest. Containing 50% to 90% cocoa solids, dark chocolate is a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc, and flavanol (which can support cardiovascular health). Added nuts or coconut may offer additional nutritional value.
Have a Happy—and Healthy—Halloween!
With these tips, you can have a much healthier Halloween. Also, if you’re struggling with weight loss, consulting with a bariatric surgeon may help you make progress on your journey. Contact Dr. Malladi for a consultation.