As Halloween approaches, children across the country eagerly await going house-to-house filling their trick-or-treat bags with candy. While it is okay to occasionally indulge in a few pieces of candy, especially on this spooky occasion, it's important to consider the long-term effects of excessive sugar on our health, specifically our children’s health. As a group of passionate and caring doctors, we are here to suggest some doctor-approved alternatives to traditional Halloween candy that can keep the fun alive while promoting better health.
Why Opt for Non-Candy Alternatives for Halloween
Most candies that you will find are primarily made of sugar, specifically added sugar. We delve into the difference between natural and added sugar in our article, “Understanding Added Sugars” where you can learn more about the difference.
The average American child consumes a startling amount of sugar annually, and is often added sugar (sugar added to foods to make them taste sweeter). Excessive sugar intake can lead to various health issues, including obesity, tooth decay, and an increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes. Therefore, it's essential to strike a balance between enjoying the festivities and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Doctor-Approved Halloween Treat Alternatives
Fruit Snacks and Fruit Leather
Instead of sugary candy, opt for fruit snacks and fruit leather made from real fruit without added sugars. These treats offer a natural sweet taste without the added refined sugars and artificial flavors found in many candies.
If you want to satisfy a chocolate craving, choose dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or more). Dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate and provides antioxidants that can benefit overall health.
Buy small pre-made sealed packs of trail mix with a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a hint of dark chocolate chips. It's a balanced and energy-packed snack that can keep kids fueled during their Halloween adventures.
Mini Popcorn Bags
Small, individually portioned and sealed bags of air-popped or lightly seasoned popcorn make for a tasty and satisfying treat without excessive calories or sugar.
Consider handing out non-food items like stickers, temporary tattoos, mini toys, or glow sticks. These alternatives can be just as exciting for kids and are free from added sugars.
Yogurt-Covered Raisins or Pretzels
These snacks offer a combination of sweet and salty flavors while containing less sugar than traditional candy-coated treats.
Sugar-free gum can be an excellent alternative, as it can help satisfy the desire for something sweet without the harmful effects of sugar.
Individual servings of fresh fruit cups with no added sugars are a convenient and healthier option for Halloween treats.
Mini Cheese Packs
Cheese sticks or small cheese portions can be a unique and satisfying option that provides protein and calcium.
Encouraging Healthy Habits Every Day of the Year
While indulging in the occasional candy treat is okay, it's crucial to instill healthy habits from a young age that you follow every single day – this creates a habit. Halloween offers a fantastic opportunity to teach children about moderation and the importance of making nutritious choices.
Parents can take the lead by discussing the potential consequences of excessive sugar consumption and providing healthier alternatives like the ones mentioned above. Additionally, they can encourage physical activity by organizing Halloween-themed games or walks around the neighborhood to counterbalance the treat intake.