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Is there really a way to have a healthy Halloween?  In a world where our kids are rewarded at school with “Smarties for being smart!” and finish every U8 soccer game with a 20 ounce Gatorade, bag of chips, & a cupcake, Trick or Treat seems more and more over the top every year.  It’s enough to make us want to turn off the porch light and hide in the basement with two unhappy boys.

On the other hand, they won’t be little for much longer, so here’s a few things we do to make Halloween a bit healthier.

Dinner before Trick or Treat

Official Trick or Treat time here is 6-8 PM on October 31.  I try to fix a dinner that everyone likes and we eat around 5, before the excitement level is so high that I need to scrape the boys off the ceiling.  Kids with full bellies are less likely to dig in to candy before they get back home with it.

Treats that are not Candy

There are many non-candy options that I’ve passed out at our door over the years.  Trick or Treaters have gone home with pencils, play-doh, temporary tattoos, stickers, cheap plastic toys, or money (pennies won’t cut it any more, better go with quarters or half-dollars).  Back when we had a $1 movie theater, movie tickets made great Halloween giveaways.

Go Healthy Homemade

The idea of giving out fruit, boxes of raisins, bags of popcorn, etc, is a great one but let’s face it, parents who grew up in the era of “OMG, there’s razor blades & needles in the candy!” aren’t going to let their children eat those.  If treats are going to folks we know, homemade items have fewer artificial ingredients and preservatives.  Here’s a few options from

Limit the Amount Collected

We try to limit the treats collected to a reasonable amount.  We Trick or Treat around our neighborhood, but keep mostly to our street.  Then we head back home and enjoy seeing everyone else’s costumes when they come to our door.  Since the boys usually come home with several goody bags from school and encounter more candy at every fall event attended, we still end up with plenty.

Mysteriously Disappearing Halloween Candy

Post Trick or Treat time, there’s a LOT of Halloween candy around here.  Different families have different ways of dealing with it.  I usually let my boys eat what they want for a few days since they don’t go too crazy.  But I hate having a huge bowl of it sitting around for weeks after Halloween, though.  I don’t like it being a part of our everyday life and constantly being asked, “can I have a piece of candy?  can I have a piece of candy?  can I have a piece of candy?”

Many in the media suggest giving candy away to local children’s hospitals, nursing homes, food pantries, or shipping it to overseas military units.  Personally, I dislike all of these, no one needs a daily dose of fat, sugar, and food coloring.  After a few days, I generally throw most of it away.  I always feel bad about being wasteful, but one of the lessons I’m trying to teach my boys is that they don’t have to eat foods just because they are there.

Our Monkey & Cat having a Healthy Halloween

Cat & Monkey having a Healthy Halloween in 2007