Scary Good Advice for a Healthier Halloween
When I was a kid after a night of neighborhood trick or treating, I’d take off my witch’s hat, pirate girl wig or angel wings and dump the sweet loot on the living room floor to size up the cache collected on Halloween. Then I started categorizing. Chocolate bars earned the highest value and candy corns the very least. Temporary tattoos and spooky pencils even ranked higher than candy corn. (They still do.) This year, according to the National Retail Foundation’s 2014 Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, we’ll spend over two billion dollars on candy. That’s a lot of bubble gum, candy bars, peanut butter cups and yes, candy corn. So, how do registered dietitian handle Halloween’s candy fest? Here are some scary good tips for treating kids and adults to a healthier Halloween.
Good Goblin Gobbling– serve those zombies a well-balanced dinner before trick or treating to fill tummies with filling protein foods and whole grains so they aren’t as tempted to dive into collected candies right away.
“Try a ‘Mini Mummy Pizza’ made on whole wheat English muffins with pizza sauce, slices of protein-packed mozzarella cheese and sliced olives for the eyes.” -Lanier Dabruzzi, registered dietitian, Atlanta, Southeast Dairy Association
“Why not break up the candy monopoly and include a bit of fall plant-based flavor in your Halloween menu? Think pumpkin smoothies, stuffed acorn squash with quinoa, carrots served with hummus in a hollowed out mini pumpkin, roasted spiced pumpkin seeds, and baked apples with cinnamon.” -Sharon Palmer, registered dietitian and author of Plant-Powered for Life
Healthier Treats – fun sized small candy bars come portion controlled. That’s good for adults handing out the treats using the join-the-fun ‘one for you, two for me!’ trick. But small bars may not include important information to detect any possible allergens.
“Miniature forms of candy do not contain a listing of ingredients on the individual package. These ingredients can be found on the larger package.” – Jill Castle, registered dietitian, food allergy expert.
Another way to limit sugary treat intake is to give candy that takes longer to eat. “These include hard candies (Jolly Roger), Starburst Fruit Chews, fruit leather, boxes of raisins, licorice, Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops, lollipops, licorice and gum.” – Julie Upton, registered dietitian at Appetite for Health.com
Savor the Sweet Treasure – happily none of the dietitians I interviewed suggest costuming carrots as candy. In fact, Halloween is a good time to teach kids how to splurge in moderation.
“Instead of trick or treating with the largest bag you can find, use a small plastic pumpkin so the kids fill their buckets but bring home less.” – Marisa Moore, Atlanta registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
“Instead of making Halloween treats and candy off-limits, teach your child balance by encouraging them to enjoy special treats as part of an overall healthy diet.” -Jessica Cox, registered dietitian, eMeals.com
“I do think it is important to keep treats from being forbidden fruit or they become that much more attractive and desirable.” Alice Henneman, registered dietitian University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.
After Halloween, Cox says, “Put leftover candy away and out of site. Combine candy with whole-grain cereal and nuts for a homemade trail mix that contains protein and fiber.”
The best thing about Halloween is that is usually involved walking and often running from house to house to gather as much sweet treasure as possible.
“We have a steep driveway and have noticed many trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood pass us by even though it is obvious we are passing out treats. A neighbor suggested setting up table at end of driveway. I said no. We are giving out candy so folks can trek up the driveway!” – Marilyn W. Yon, registered dietitian,
The best way to eat candy corn
BONY FINGERS. Fill clear plastic gloves (the type designed for wearing in the kitchen when preparing food) with popcorn, which is a whole grain food high in fiber and low in calories. Tie the end with ribbon or yarn. Add a few pieces of candy corn at the end of each finger for fingernails. Source: http://food.unl.edu/fnh/healthy-halloween-party
So the real trick on Halloween is to treat the costumed crew to a short but sweet trip through candy land while making sure the rest of the day includes healthy food choices and the night includes fitness for a frightfully fun time.