Haunted houses, ghost stories, and costume galore all mean one thing: Halloween. For children, Halloween is a time to dress in costumes and receive an overload of candy to satisfy their sweet-tooth. This year, swap candy for the healthy alternatives that won’t consist of a sugar overload.
As a parent, why should I consider alternatives to candy?
Most candy is packed full of artificial colors and flavors, chemical additives and high fructose corn syrup. Candy has no nutritional value and often leads to cavities. The amount of sugar and high fructose corn syrup are also linked to the rising rates of childhood obesity.
Not convinced to swap sugary snacks just yet? Did you know that consuming too much sugar suppresses immune system cells responsible for attacking bacteria?
What are some Healthy Alternatives?
Enjoy this Halloween by hosting a Halloween bash. Hosting a party allows you to be in total control of what is distributed to children. It also assures that healthy eating habits are practiced.
- Serve healthy party foods instead of candy such as fresh fruits and vegetables with low-fat dips. Trade in the chips for baked chips or crackers.
- Stay in season by offering apple cider or water instead of soda or other soft drinks full of calories and sugars.
- Hand out goody bags that contain cereal bars; snack packets of dried fruit or pretzels; raisins; trail mix or single serve ready-to-eat cereal.
Try this recipe below during your Halloween bash:
24 round crackers
Smooth Peanut butter
Small pretzel sticks
Place 1 cracker, smooth side up, on a plate. Spread with a 1/4 in. thick layer of peanut butter. Top with 1 more cracker, rough side up. Insert 4 pretzel sticks into each side of the cracker sandwich to create "legs". On the top cracker, place 2 small dabs of peanut butter, stick raisins into each dab. Makes 12 snack sandwiches.
For an even healthier alternative, parents can choose to substitute the peanut butter for cream cheese, and the raisins for chopped black olives. Children will love devouring their own little spider bites, and will ask for this treat again and again.
Don’t want to feel guilty by distributing candy to other children?
Give trick-or-treaters a variety to choose from this year. Try nutritious foods and non-food options that will help children get active. Hand out small Halloween themed toys or novelties such as glow sticks; spooky tattoos; puzzles or activity books to send them off with a smile.
Remember, Halloween doesn’t have to be all about candy, there are many options that offer healthier alternatives.
Cami Barger-Jones, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician at Riley Physicians Pediatrics, a Partner with IU Health Ball Memorial Physicians, located at 205 N. Tillotson Avenue in Muncie. For more information please visit, iuhealth.org/ball-memorial.