Friday night, moms all across the Twin Cities are going to collapse into bed exhausted (but smiling) from all the Halloween festivities. Saturday morning, upon waking up, they will quickly realize the tricks of Halloween are just beginning as we are faced with the real-life nightmare of what to do with all the candy our children acquired the night before. Like many of you, I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween. While I love to see my kids embrace the creative aspects of Halloween and use their imagination to plan and execute fun costumes, I dislike all the sugar that is consumed.
I used to view all the Halloween candy with a “no big deal” attitude and “all things in moderation” perspective. I mean, it’s only one day, what’s the harm in a few extra pieces of candy? But the more I learn about sugar from a scientific and physiological perspective, I am starting to change my mind on how much sugar my kids should be ingesting. I think we all would agree, the lesser the better.
At the same time, we all know that if you make a certain food or food group “forbidden,” it only increases curiosity and could lead to a long term unhealthy relationship with food. The way I see it, our kids are going to have to learn how to live in a world where there is sugar and candy everywhere you turn. I think it is my job as a parent to teach my kids how to manage their sugar intake, and Halloween gives us ample opportunities for teachable moments.
From the time my kids were little, I have let them be in charge of their candy stash. Last year my youngest was a referee for Halloween so we told him he was the “referee” of his candy. This was just the visual he needed to understand he was responsible for what he did with his candy. Each boy keeps about 10-15 pieces of candy – their favorites – and then I get rid of the leftovers. I encourage them to eat 1 piece a day, but if they choose to eat more, that is their choice and they pay the consequences (the consequence may be that they feel sick or their brother is still enjoying his candy 1 week later).
This plan works for us, but there are many more ideas out there that can help you achieve a healthier Halloween for your family. It seems the buzzword around the internet these days is hack. There is a hack for everything including lunchbox hacks, sensory hacks to calm an angry child, ice cream hacks that will take your life to the next level and even fellow TCMB contributor Laura brought you these awesome IKEA hacks a few months ago. Well, I’m jumping on the hack bandwagon and have gathered:
12 Hacks for a Healthier Halloween
1. Focus on the non-food celebrations of the Halloween tradition. This is a great time to get to know your neighbors and enjoy various community events.
2. Before trick-or-treating, fill your kids with a healthy supper that includes plenty of protein.
3. Buy a gingerbread house kit (Christmas merchandise is out already) and make it into a Haunted House using some of the leftover candy.
4. Find a dentist who will give you money for your candy. This website will help you find one who participates in the buyback program.
5. Send a care package with some of the candy to a college student, soldier, or friend in another state.
6. Create a Monster Mash Trail Mix by adding pretzels, peanuts, craisins, cheerios, etc. to the candy.
7. Turn colorful candy pieces into art by making candy mosaics on posterboard.
8. Chop up the chocolates and freeze to use as ice cream topping later.
9. Make fun and healthy Halloween-themed snacks.
10. Save the candy to use in goody bags or a pinata for a future birthday party.
11. Buy the candy you will be handing out as late as possible and choose something you will not be tempted to eat.
12. Make these super easy and delicious apple nachos with the leftover candy (step by step instructions below)
Unwrap chocolate and melt in microwave (I added peanut butter for some protein)
While the chocolate is melting grab some apples
Slice them thin and arrange on a platter
Spread the melted chocolate over the apples
I hope you and your family have a Happy (and Healthy) Halloween!