How to Have a Heart-Healthy Halloween

Updated:Feb 27,2014
Kids Dressed in Halloween Costumes on PorchYour kids have the perfect costume and are counting down the days until October 31st to show it to the world! Maybe you’re having a party with the neighborhood or school friends or plan to just walk the neighborhood. Whatever your plans, remember that just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean heart health doesn’t matter.

Try these tips to make your Halloween festivities fun, safe, and healthy for you, your family, all those trick-or-treaters and party guests.

For the Trick-Or-Treaters
  • Eat First. What kid doesn’t want to eat their favorite candy right when it goes into their trick-or-treat bag? But hold off! Having a healthy meal BEFORE your kids go trick-or-treating can reduce their temptation to “snack” while walking or to overindulge because their tummies will be full.
     
  • Bag It. Be sure to find the right sized collection bag for your child and steer clear of the pillow case method. If you encourage your child to only take one piece of candy from each house, they’ll be able to visit each house in the neighborhood and still fill up their smaller bag.
     
  • Get Rid Of It! Worried you’ll have leftover Halloween candy until long after long Valentine’s Day? The tip above about using the smaller bag will help, but sometimes kids STILL end up with a ton of extra sweets. Here are some ideas of what to do with all the leftover mountains of candy:
    • Pick out enough candy for one piece a day for 5 days and put those in the fridge. When your child asks for a piece of candy make sure to pair it with a healthy snack: an apple, a banana, some healthy nuts, or celery.
    • “Buy back” the candy from your child with money or tokens they can trade in for a fun activity: a day at the zoo, an afternoon playing at a local park, going ice skating, or a day at the pool.
    • Some dentist offices have been known to buy back the candy from their patients so be on the lookout for that option!
    • Save it for holiday baking coming up.
    • Stuff a piñata with it for the next birthday celebration.
    • Recycle it by using it in an arts and crafts project.
    • Throw it away! And don’t buy the ½-priced candy after Halloween!
       
  • Get Moving. Get some exercise by making this Halloween a fun family physical activity event. Set a goal of how many houses you will walk to and then stick to it! Wear good shoes for walking too!
     
  • Safety First. Remember to stay in groups when trick-or-treating. Don’t allow your child to walk up to a house alone and always keep a watchful eye on where they are headed next. Use sidewalks when available, and use crosswalks when crossing busier streets. Smart safety tips to keep in mind:
    • bring a flash light while walking,
    • only go to houses with the porch light on,
    • inspect candy before allowing children to eat it, and
    • be on your way home before the street lights come on.
Clementine Orange Jack-O-LanternsFor the Stay-At-Homer
  • Be THAT House. No one said it was against the law to NOT pass out candy on Halloween, so don’t be afraid to be “that” house that doesn’t. Start a new tradition on your street and think about a healthier version of treats to give out. How about trying:
    • mini boxes of raisins,
    • clementine oranges painted like Jack-O-Lanterns,
    • 100% juice juice-boxes,
    • snack sized pretzels,
    • pre-packaged trail mixes,
    • pre-packaged dried fruits,
    • crayons,
    • stickers,
    • tooth brushes,
    • bubbles,
    • plastic spiders, or
    • coupons to local frozen yogurt stores.
Be careful! Avoid using toys that could be a choking hazard to little ones.
  • Avoid the Whole Mess. Want to avoid candy and masses of kids? Dress your family up in their costumes and go see a movie, go to the toy store and have your child pick out their favorite toy, see if local malls have trick-or-treat within the stores, local police and fire stations may offer this alternative as well.
Learn more: Last Reviewed 10/2013

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