This is no trick: Halloween treats don’t have to be unhealthy.
Nutrition experts say while candy and other sweet treats are the go-to choice for Halloween parties and trick-or-treat, there are more healthy options that will delight revelers.
The issue many parents face is finding ready-made options at the store because homemade treats have become frowned upon during trick-or-treat.
“The days of homemade items — popcorn balls or throwing an apple in a bag — are over due to past incidences of tampering,” said Vanessa Provins, a dietitian at Porter Regional Hospital.
Warehouse clubs, such as Sam’s Club or Costco, can provide some alternatives, such as mini popcorn bags, granola bars or pretzels, she said.
Glow sticks, spider rings, and Halloween-themed pencils and stickers are also easy choices that are safe for children who potentially may have food allergies.
Sometimes, simply choosing the better of two options still allows children to enjoy a sweet treat, says Terri Sakelaris, a registered dietitian and nutritionist with the Community Hospital Diabetes Center.
A caramel apple pop, for example, contains 60 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates, while a Sugar Daddy pop contains 170 calories per pop with 36 grams of carbohydrates. One serving of Laffy Taffy, which includes five mini pieces, contains 160 calories with 36 grams of carbohydrates, but a Fruit by the Foot .7-ounce serving, or one roll, contains 80 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates, Sakelaris says.
In addition to glow sticks and spider rings, other non-food options she recommends include mini glider airplanes that can be bought in bulk from companies such as Oriental Trading, bubbles, mini Play-Doh and bouncy balls for older children.
If throwing a Halloween party, searching Pinterest or the Internet can produce lots of ideas, from making a mummy out of vegetables to banana ghost pops.
Still want to stick with tradition and hand out candy? Try mixing up post-Halloween traditions by offering children the option of getting something they have wanted in exchange for some of that candy.
“I read one article about a mom of a diabetic child where he sorts his candy with mom and dad, and then he put all the candy that he wanted in a bag next to his bed for the ‘Switch Witch,’ ” Sakelaris said. “The ‘Switch Witch’ will take the candy and bring a toy or game that he or she has been wanting.”
Children can even donate a bag of candy, brightening someone else’s day.
Provins said some organizations will take donated candy and send it to U.S. troops, while others such as senior centers or hospice facilities will share it with residents and family members.
No matter who is eating the candy, moderation is key, Sakelaris said.
“Focus on the costumes, activities, parties, carving pumpkins and eat a good dinner prior to going out so your child isn’t eating too much candy while out trick-or-treating,” she said. “Then once at home, you can sort and examine the treats.”