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Want to Have a Healthy Halloween?

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
October 28, 2022

Halloween is a tough time of year. There's a lot of candy floating around, and surplus candy afterward. This makes it tough to stay on-track with your health.

If you are anything like me, willpower seems to take a vacation starting mid-October up until January 5th, when all the goodies run out.

Believe it or not, I don't fall in the same bandwagon of other dietitians, recommending people pass out toys instead of candy. Many of us grew up with that one time per year where we worked hard on our costumes, went door to door, displaying our ghastly, ghoulish masks, painted faces, wigs and outlandish accessories. It was fun to count and compare the loot we got with those of our peers.  Why let today's child miss out on this?

In fact, most Americans, including children, get more than half their daily calories from ultra-processed foods. Chips, sweet cereals and pastries, fast food, sweet drinks, and pizza are staples for many Americans. Considering this high intake of processed foods, allowing candy for a few days in October isn’t our biggest failure when feeding our kids. Instead, we’re not teaching them how to eat well or understand their ­appetite the rest of the year. Let's not cut out Halloween as a result of this.

But what do we do to reduce the munchies and stave off the cravings for those brightly colored wrappers that remind us of our childhood?  There's a few simple tips and tricks to keep yourself (and the little ghouls and goblins that you love) in check:

  1. Make "Everything in Moderation" Your Rule of Thumb. Put leftover candy in a ziplock in the back of the freezer. Any time you reach for more, first think: "Why am I craving this? Did I eat and drink enough today? Am I stressed? Am I missing out on sleep?
  2. Spread the Love, Divvy it up! Give it to others as part of a gift topper at birthdays and holiday time, provided you store them appropriately.
  3. Repurpose the Treats to your Troops! Many dentists offer a a candy buy-back program, which provides incentives per pound to children parting with their stash.  Dentists then donate candy to a program like Operation Gratitude, which provides care packages to military troops. If you don’t have a participating dentist, you can also mail in your leftover candy by November 15.
  4. Set the Expectations of Candy as Currency.  If you have kids or grandkids, and you want to help them and have a good plan for repurposing the candy, try offering them a chance at the movies, a trip to the mall, a new toy, or other perk for every 5-10 candy bars they give you. Setting the bar high may also mean they give you more of their loot to compete with their siblings or friends.

Whatever method you choose in the end, just know that your Dietitians are here with more ideas any time you need them. Go ahead and send a message!