Tuesday, 30 October 2012

How can we have a Healthier Halloween ?

When it comes to Halloween, I’m pretty sure what it is that kids enjoy most. When I asked my kids “What’s your favourite thing about Halloween?”, they confirmed my suspicions. “Candy!” was their enthusiastic response.

We all know that the power of candy at Halloween is pretty strong. Case in point: the Halloween when I was 7 months pregnant and my middle daughter was about 18-months-old, she was initially pretty terrified about trick-or-treating. In fact, I seem to remember that she didn’t want to go out at all. But we got her dressed up and out went, her 3-year-old sister leading the way. At first, our toddler was very timid about going up the stairs to our neighbours’ houses, and would only go if I was carrying her. But if I recall correctly, it only took two houses and two handfuls of candy to encourage her to do all the other houses of our route on her own!

The whole concept of Halloween seems a little off to me. I know that it’s lots of fun, but it also seems so greedy and gluttonous. I must have bothered me, at least subconsciously, even when I was a child: I actually remember having dream one year in early November in which all the kids were required to go back to all the houses they had visited on Halloween and give back the treats they received!

And ironically, no one really seems to want all that candy anyway. Well, except the kids, of course, but then the parents don’t want them to have it. So everyone buys oodles of candy to dole out to the trick-or-treaters, and then tries to pawn it off on all the kids and families that come to their door so that they won’t have any left. Then the parents go through the trick-or-treat stash that’s been collected and try to get rid of as much as they can to the late-night kids who come to the door, or take it in to the office the next day. And I confess to immediately throwing out all the toffee, gummy candy and gum.

Which leads me to ask: why do we bother?

And as I try to stress healthy eating to my family, and limit their exposure to sugars and treats, Halloween becomes very tricky indeed.

Fortunately, my daughter’s school teacher is on board. Along with the information about the Halloween class party came the request for healthy treats. While this might require a little more resourcefulness or imagination than sending traditional cookies or cupcakes, I give kudos to the school for putting nutrition ahead of sugar.

A little Internet searching turned up a number of great ideas, including these Healthy Halloween Snacks from Spoonful:

I really like the crudités shaped into a skeleton or cat or witch, but since I won’t there to set it up in her classroom for the party, I can’t see how I can make it work.


I also think the frozen banana ghost pops are a great idea, although I’ve read somewhere else about coating them with yogurt instead of chocolate to make them even healthier. But again, I’m not sure how we can manage the frozen treats at a school party.

The jack-o-lantern oranges filled with fruit salad look fantastic too, but I’m a keep-it-simple kind of mom, so we opted for tangerine pumpkin faces drawn on with marker. Plus, my daughter was able to help with this one.

And what about the hand-out for the trick-or-treaters? Having recently read that eating 9 mini chocolate bars equals 875 calories(!), I knew I had to stay away from candy I liked. But I also decided that somehow, I would avoid contributing to the I saw some great ideas for Halloween Candy Alternatives from Canadian Family, and since my daughter is currently obsessed with stickers, sticker books and sticker trading, stickers seemed an obvious choice.

My husband insisted that we also need to give out some sort of food treat. I decided on potato chips. Maybe because I don’t like them too much, I figure that they won’t be consumed 4 to 5 at a time, like chocolate bars. And at least they’re not chockfull of corn syrup and sugar.

I just hope we don’t get egged.

(However, given that Halloween is predicted to be a cold, windy and wet one this year, I think we should be safe from pranks. In fact, I may end up eating little bags of potato chips and filling my daughters’ sticker books for months to come…)

How do you feel about the sugar grab and rush of Halloween? Are you making any changes to make it a little healthier for your kids?

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