By: Kelly Atyeo, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.
Traditionally a Celtic belief, Halloween was a day to mark the night in the year when spirits and the dead would cross over into the living world. People dressed up as ghosts and spirits to blend in with the hopes that they would not get taken to the underworld.1 At some point in history, Halloween evolved to mean original costumes, candy, and fun. It has also become a food occasion where – not surprisingly – nutrition takes a backseat.
It would be unrealistic, and almost a terror worse than the fear of going to the underworld, to take candy away from children on Halloween. However, you can use this holiday as an opportunity to teach your kids about moderation.
Below are some tips to get you thinking about nutrition during the preparation of Halloween, the parties, and the aftermath.
The Preparation: Finding Tasty Treats
You don’t have to stick to the typical chocolate, chips and candy to hand out to kids as they come to your door. There are a lot of options in the grocery store that kids would consider to be a treat – but also a bit healthier.
Look for the following items as healthier treat options:
- No-sugar-added Fruit Snacks
- Juice Packages
- Baked Chips
- Granola Bars
- No sugar added apple sauce
The Party: A Healthy Halloween
A party doesn’t need to consist of pizza and chips. Try these fun, tasty, creative and healthy recipes you can make for your Halloween Party:
Witches’ Fingers: chicken.ca/recipes/view/scary-chicken-cordon-bleu-fingers/
Monster Sludge: chicken.ca/recipes/view/hot-spinach--chicken-dip-slow-cooker/
Mummified Chicken: chicken.ca/recipes/view/quick--easy-sausage-rolls/
The Aftermath: Eating the Treats
Be prepared. The moment the kids are back, they are going to want to count their stash of candy. After that, it is likely they will want to eat most of their loot! This is a good opportunity to teach moderation. Let your child know that it’s okay to have treats, but to have 1 or 2 and save the rest for another time. Right before bed is also not a good time for a large intake of sugar.
When that other time does come, here are a few suggestions:
- Keep the Halloween treats in a special bin that your kids cannot access unless they ask for your permission. You wouldn’t want all the Halloween candy to be gone in a day!
- Add some of the healthier treats you have purchased, with the treats that they brought home from the neighbours. By including the healthier snacks with the treats, your child will learn that a treat doesn’t necessarily need to mean candy, chips or chocolate.
- Allow your child to select 2 treats that they wish to take to school for lunch, or have as a snack. By allowing them to make a decision, they are learning moderation and building a positive relationship with food, versus having you build it for them. Their choices might even surprise you!
Halloween is a holiday that children love. Making Halloween healthier doesn’t mean that you are trying to change that. It’s still about fun, fantasy, and food. Have a safe and spooky Halloween!
1. timeanddate.com. (2013). Halloween in Canada. Retrieved February 24, 2013, from www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/halloween