As fun as it is to dress up in costume on Halloween, for most kids, the highlight of this October holiday is the candy loot acquired during trick-or-treating. While there's nothing wrong with a sweet treat here and there, the problem comes from the huge consumption of large amounts of candy that occurs during and after collecting.
According to the California Milk Processors Board, the average Jack-O-Lantern bucket holds about 250 pieces of candy, amounting to about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar! And most kids collect more than a bucket-worth ... yikes!
Americans are expected to spend $2.6 billion on Halloween candy in 2019, according to the National Retail Foundation's annual survey. That's a lot of candy corn and fun-size candy bars!
How can we reduce our kids' sugar intake on Halloween while still having all the fun this holiday is known for? Here are a few tips and ideas:
1. SET LIMITS.
Talk to your children before Halloween and agree ahead of time on how many pieces of candy they are allowed to eat during and after trick-or-treating, as well as in the days that follow.
2. OPT FOR "HEALTHIER" CANDY.
Do your research ahead of time to determine which candy has fewer calories or sugar than others and encourage your kids (and yourself) to reach for those instead.
3. FILL UP WITH A WELL-BALANCED MEAL.
Make sure the kids eat a healthy dinner before heading out to any trick-or-treating activities as this will reduce sugar cravings and hopefully candy consumption too. For a Halloween-themed dinner, you can make Pumpkin Guts or Spooky Joes
4. GIVE OUT NON-CANDY TREATS.
There are lots of fun treats to give out to trick-or-treaters instead of candy (refer to our list of 110 Non-Candy Halloween Treat Ideas) and your kids may be willing to trade some of their loot for these goodies too.
Be sure to set out a teal pumpkin at your door step to signify you have non-food items to give out so children with food allergies can be included in the fun of trick-or-treating (learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project).
5. START A SWITCH WITCH TRADITION.
Let the Switch Witches of Switchcrafted help your kids trade in sugary Halloween treats for a larger non-candy item like a toy, book or electronic game. Or create your own version of an invisible "candy fairy" that comes on Halloween night to make the switch while the kids are sleeping.
6. SELL BACK EXCESS CANDY.
Operation Shoebox accepts individual candy donations year-round to send to our troops overseas. Around Halloween, they work with local dentists to collect and ship candy on a large scale. Find out which dentists and orthodontists near you are participating in the Halloween Candy Buy-Back Program.
7. SKIP TRICK-OR-TREATING FOR A FUN FAMILY ACTIVITY.
Older kids especially might be willing to pass on trick-or-treating and opt for an experience instead. Skip the candy and head out to a haunted attraction, movie, corn maze, ghost tour, or any fun activity your child would enjoy for lasting memories without the calories (find great local ideas in our Macaroni Kid ULTIMATE Fall & Halloween FUN Guide)!
Wishing you and your family a Happy Halloween!