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Halloween brings out the ravenous monster in all of us, and like our favorite monsters it's easy to go a little crazy sometimes. Whether you're a kid in costume with a bagful of earned treats or an adult waiting for knocks at the door with a bowl of candy and no one watching, both the temptation and opportunity to snack excessively are overwhelming. We're going to show you how you can avoid going too far while still giving yourself the chance to enjoy some classic Halloween treats.
Of course, Halloween's different this year and it's important we start with tips on COVID-19 safety. Trick or treating may even look different this year, with many locales opting for Trunk or Treat events, one-way trick-or-treating (in which goodie-bags or a candy bucket are left outside on a porch) or alternate Halloween activities. Here are some tips:
Handing candy out for kids? Instead of answering the door, consider one-way trick-or-treating instead! We've seen people come up with alternatives from goody bags to freestanding candy buckets to candy slide contraptions using wrapping paper rolls.
Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without trick-or-treating. Parents may dread the amount of candy their children are going to bring home, but don't forget that kids are exercising and working to get those sweets. Coming home with a full bag is both an effort and a source of pride. Why not use that motivation to instill a love of exercise in your kids? Knowing that physical activity has definite benefits is the best way to get anybody, child or adult, up and moving.
Eat Before Going Out: One of the easiest ways to stop yourself from eating too much candy during trick or treating? Have a healthy, filling meal before you go out. It's a great way to limit the pull of candy and give yourself energy for the night out.
Make Trick or Treating More Active: The fact that you're going to end the night with a bag of candy is mitigated by all the walking you'll be doing to get it. Instead of driving from street to street, make sure you walk on your route. You can also make a game out of the night: compete with family or friends to see how many houses you can visit, or set a goal for yourself and try to top it each year. We've all seen TV shows and movies where kids try to become Halloween legends by visiting more houses than anyone before; why not try it yourself and get some exercise in the process?
Find More Spooky Excuses to Exercise: You don't need to save your walking for Halloween night! The season offers plenty of opportunities to get your family on their feet and exploring. Ghost walks and haunted history tours, corn mazes, and pumpkin picking are great ways to get out of the house for fall. You can also entice your kids outside during the month to walk the neighborhood looking at decorations, or even to practice your trick-or-treating route.
Whether on Halloween night or not, you might be hosting a monster mash or providing food for one. Here's some ideas to make it both healthy and satisfying!
Get Creative with Food: Halloween parties are famous for turning food into a spooky scene or creepy creature. But you don't have to decorate a cake or bake any other unhealthy snacks. You can take a page from your yearly pumpkin carving and turn healthy foods into gruesome treats! Dig around online and you'll find tons of recipes and ideas for things like monster apples, banana ghosts, and veggie plate skeletons. Part of the appeal of candy is that it's fun and colorful; fruits and veggies can do that too!
Get Up and Celebrate!: A Halloween party doesn't mean you have to sit and watch monster movies the whole time. Before you all settle down in the living room, get your guests moving with dancing or spooky variations on classic party games! Try zombie tag, a ghost balloon toss, or a ball toss using pumpkin or monster targets.
Watch the Drinks: Drinks, being less filling and substantial than food, are an often unnoticed source of sugar. Parties are usually stocked with the least healthy drink options due to convenience. Watch out for sodas and sweetened juices! You can easily replace these with punches made from healthier options like sparkling water and 100% fruit juices.
If you're staying at home watching monster movies, you have hours of opportunities to snack. Here are some tips to ward off your hungriest impulses.
The One Piece Rule: Most people already do this when handing out candy, but make sure to limit trick-or-treaters to one piece from your bowl. It'll keep your bowl stocked so more kids get their chance at treats, while preventing anyone from overindulging.
Alternatives to Candy: Children get plenty of candy on Halloween. Why not offer something different and memorable? Toys are a great option! Cards from popular trading card games are easy to buy in large quantities. Also, many toy companies now make varieties of blind-bagged toys, often tiny figurines of characters from popular movie or TV series sold in concealed packages. Finding out which one you get as you open the package is both a trick and treat!
Track Your Treats: Handing out candy has its own pitfalls. Waiting by your door with a candy bowl for hours is basically a license to snack excessively, so track your treats! Just keep a log of how many you've eaten; having a quick visual reference to your snacking is a great way to keep it under control.
Be Prepared for Temptation: Have you ever seen a zombie movie where no one barricaded the door? Of course not. Think of your snacking habits as the walking dead: they grow in number the more they're fed. Be sure to buy candy as close to Halloween as possible, to cut down on the amount of time you have candy near you. And like any good sequel, it's still around just when you think you're safe, so only buy as much candy as you need for your usual number of trick or treaters. That way you'll avoid having too many leftovers.
Whether you're handing out candy or taking care of a child with food allergies, this is an important consideration on any holiday where food is a major component. We discussed this in our Halloween Safety Tips article earlier week, but two major points deserve to be mentioned again:
This is our golden rule to having a healthy, enjoyable Halloween. If we were giving out horror movie survival tips, this would be our "Don't Split Up to Investigate." It's the first thing to keep in mind, and it's simply this:
Anti-climactic, right? People get nervous about Halloween. It's scary to let your kids out prowling around the neighborhood at night. It's tough to take off the restraints and live by a different set of rules, even for just one night. But Halloween's about letting loose, and that one night of indulgence isn't a danger if you practice a healthy lifestyle all year.
Still worried about the slippery slope? Scared that eating a fun size candy bar is just the first step on a journey to bad habits? Think of how curious and perceptive children can be, and the one thing guaranteed to peak a child's interest: a hard rule against something. Banning candy makes it attractive, and treating it like a bogeyman teaches kids to approach health rigidly, with an anxiety-inducing perfectionism. Teaching moderation instead lets children know that candy is an occasional treat that needn't inspire guilt. Even sweets can be approached in a healthy way! Save those scares for your decorations and costumes.