Healthier Halloween

Halloween is synonymous with candy, lots of it! Unlike other holidays, Halloween treats tend to linger well past October 31st, making plans for an occasional indulgence more of a challenge. Not to mention, Halloween is shortly followed by numerous other food-centered holidays that altogether cause the average American adult to gain 1-2 pounds each year! Instead of banning the treats or making them off-limits, start the holiday season mindfully by balancing candy with healthful foods and limiting how much candy makes it into the home.

Whether you’re handing out candy or helping someone collect it, you can reduce cravings and the temptation to overindulge by having a nutritious meal or snack before you get started. If you’re already satisfied from a filling, nutrient-dense meal with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, temptations to overindulge will subside. As a bonus, candy won’t end up displacing essential nutrients in your diet.

  • Make your pre-trick-or-treat meal Halloween themed with festive orange and black foods like carrots, canned pumpkin, baked sweet potato fries, blood oranges, refried black beans, and blue corn tortilla chips. Use green guacamole “slime” as a dipping sauce for fresh-cut veggies.

Get into the Halloween spirit with fun and healthy recipes that highlight fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. You might go to a few Halloween parties or even plan one yourself. These gatherings tend to lack nutritious options, so bring one! Our favorite? Air-popped popcorn (a whole grain) drizzled with a small amount of dark chocolate and orange-colored white chocolate.

Buy less candy than you think you’ll hand out. There will still be plenty to go around if your house runs out!

Skip oversized candy-bags and opt for something smaller, like a small gift bag or costume-coordinated container. Filling a small bag to the top can be just visually satisfying as filling a large bag. Plus, you’ll put a limit on how much candy makes it into the home.

After the candy is collected, help your child sift through their candy and get rid of anything unwanted. Do the same for leftover candy you bought to pass out. You could also ask your child to keep only a certain amount of candy, then get rid of the rest. Ideally, this amount would be enough for them to have one piece per day for about two weeks. Serve one-to-two pieces of candy only after healthy meals or with a fruit, vegetable, or whole-grain snack.

Store candy in the freezer or an opaque container toward the back of a cabinet. It’s even better when it’s hard to reach! Storing tempting foods out-of-sight or somewhere hard to access is one way to take control of your food environment.

Realize that only 2-3 packages of many “fun-sized” candies equal one regular-sized package. For example, two-and-a-half fun-sized Butterfingers are equal to one regular Butterfinger. Three fun-sized bags of M&Ms are equal to one regular bag of M&Ms.

There will always be lots of candy to go around on Halloween. Consider passing out non-edible items, which can be just as fun and festive. Ideas from the American Heart Association:

  • Glow sticks or small glow-in-the-dark toys
  • Bouncy balls
  • Mini plush toys and wind-up toys
  • Crayons and coloring books
  • Stickers or stamps
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Bubble makers
  • Spider rings or vampire’s teeth
  • Slime, putty or squishy toys
  • Friendship bracelets


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