Halloween will be here before you can say boo. To get into the spirit, we're already playing the Monster Mash in our household and trying on superhero costumes. Still, as much ghostly fun as the holiday brings, Halloween can conflict with everything we do all year long to protect our children from sugar-laden foods and harmful ingredients. For one, childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. Artificial dyes and sweeteners, which make up much of those candy treats, have been linked to hyperactivity, behavioral problems in kids, and even cancer. Then to top it all off, candy makes our kids more prone to "zombie mouths," an epidemic that has dentists today seeing a scary number of preschoolers at all income levels with six to 10 cavities or more.
To illustrate just how much junk our kids consume on Halloween, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta estimates that the average child accumulates roughly 4,800 calories, one-and-a-half cups of fat, and three cups of sugar-in just one jaunt to 15 houses. On the high end, our kids are getting up to a ghoulish 7,000 calories in one trick-or-treat outing, according to Donna K. Arnett, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham's School of Public Health.
All things considered, it's not fun to be ghoul about Halloween so here are some fun tips for moms to make it a healthier Halloween:
Healthier Halloween Tip #1:
Feed the kids before they go trick-or-treating. By filling them up with something healthier prior to sending them door-to-door on Halloween, you will discourage unnecessary snacking on candy.
Healthier Halloween Tip #2:
Throw out the bright colors. Bright-colored candy equals artificial food dyes, which are made from petroleum and have been linked to attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit disorder/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), among other behavioral issues. In the UK, food products and candy that contain artificial food dyes are required to have a warning label.
Healthier Halloween Tip #3:
Moderation is key. No mom wants to take the fun out of Halloween. Let them have a few pieces of candy the night of Halloween and limit to one piece after a healthier dinner for the next week. Make sure you hide the candy in a place where they can't easily find it.
Healthier Halloween Tip #4:
Give them candy without all the toxic ingredients. Pass out healthier candy that tastes just as good but without all the harmful ingredients. Here are some candy alternatives that will make you a poster mom for your neighborhood's health:
- Surf Sweets offers a wide variety of gluten-free, organic gummies, sour bears and jelly beans plus a Halloween Treat in spooky shapes. Not only are their candies delicious, but they also donate a minimum of 1% of sales to good causes.
- YumEarth treats parents and kids to individually wrapped organic lollipops, sour drops, and gummy bears made with real fruit extracts and sustainable ingredients.
- Glee Gum makes gum pops and Mini Glee Variety Packs of their natural chewing gum. It is free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners, and their gum is Non-GMO Project Verified.
- Check out MadeGood Snacks. They have a box of mini granola bars special for Halloween. Plus, your kids will never know there is a hidden serving of veggies.
Just remember that, for kids, Halloween is still one of the most exciting days of the year! It's meant to be a retreat from the norm, and for parents, it can be healthy to look at it as such. As long as you set some ground rules that your family can agree on, your children can still get their treat and eat it too.
Image via Mike McCune
More Halloween ideas and recipes:
Sign up for our newsletter and receive all our healthy tips in your inbox: