This Halloween, Don’t Let Good Health and Nutrition Disappear into the Night

You know what’s really scary?

The average child gathers 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night! With the obesity rate triple what it was a generation ago, and the number of cavities increasing among children for the first time in 40 years, some health experts see Halloween as a nightmare. A typical 100-pound child who consumed all of those treats would have to walk for nearly 44 hours or play full-court basketball for 14.5 hours to burn the calories. That said, however, there are many things you can do to help keep this spooky holiday fun and healthier for your children.1

Manage the candy flow

If your children generally eat well, experts say there is nothing wrong with letting them eat candy on Halloween night, and enjoying a few pieces in the days that follow. A good way to control candy consumption is to allow kids to have up to three pieces a day, starting with lunch, as a snack in the afternoon, or after dinner. The rest of the candy can go in the freezer. Out of sight, out of mind!

Fill them up with healthy snacks first

Have your kids fill up on healthy treats at Halloween parties and before they go trick-or-treating. They’ll be a little less tempted by all the candy in their bags.

Dress fruits and vegetables in a Halloween disguise

It really is possible to make fruits and vegetables fun. Here are two cute recipes to try.2

Ghost Bananas and Tangerine Pumpkins

Ingredients: Bananas, regular and mini chocolate chips, tangerines, and celery

Ghost bananas

  1. Peel bananas and cut in half.
  2. Dip them in lemon or pineapple juice to keep them from turning brown.3
  3. Place two mini chocolate chips for the eyes, and one regular chocolate chip for the mouth.

Tangerine pumpkins

  1. Peel the tangerines.
  2. Cut a one-inch second of celery to make the stem.
  3. Place a piece of cut celery in the top of each tangerine.

Have kids share their stash

When kids get back from parties or trick-or-treating, have them divide their haul into two piles: one for the candy they want to keep, and the other for candy they will not eat. They can then donate the second pile to a local senior citizens home, food pantry, Ronald McDonald House or other charity.1

Hand out healthier foods and toys

This is an idea that can help both the trick-or-treaters who visit you and your own family, who will benefit from the leftovers. Instead of high fat and sugar candies, hand out healthier options such as animal crackers, mini granola bars, whole grain cheddar cheese crackers and sugar-free hot chocolate packets. And, if you want to avoid treats entirely, you can give out cool toys such as such as glow sticks, Play-Doh containers or stickers.1

Follow these 10 tips for healthier teeth

  • Five fat-free candies that are low in sugar
  • Of the 37 most popular Halloween candies, these five have the lowest fat and sugar content.5
  • Jolly Ranchers – Three of these hard candies have 70 calories, no fat, and 11 grams of sugar.
  • Blow Pops – This candy/gum combo has 60 calories, no fat, and 13 grams of sugar.
  • Gobstoppers – Nine pieces of this confection have 60 calories, no fat, and 14 grams of sugar.
  • Pixy Stix – Seven straws have 60 calories, no fat, and 15 grams of sugar.
  • Candy Corn – A perennial favorite, 19 pieces of candy corn have 140 calories, no fat, and 32 grams of sugar.

It’s not only nutrition that can take a hit on Halloween. With the onslaught of sugar, kids’ teeth face a test, too. So have them follow these 10 tips for helping their teeth and mouths stay healthy during Halloween and the rest of the year.4

  1. Eat candy and other sugary foods with meals or shortly after. Increased saliva production helps rinse away food particles and cancel out acids products by bacteria.
  2. Avoid hard candy and other sweets that linger in your mouth.
  3. Stay away from sticky candies that cling to teeth and increase the risk for tooth decay.
  4. Drink plenty of fluoridated water, which can help prevent tooth decay.
  5. Maintain a healthy diet. The foods you choose affect your general health along with the health of your teeth and gums.
  6. Avoid beverages with added sugar, such as soda, sports drinks, and flavored waters.
  7. Chew gum that has the ADA, or American Dental Association, seal. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay. The increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by bacteria.
  8. Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
  9. Clean between teeth with floss every day.
  10. Visit an ADA member dentist. Regular visits can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur early, when they’re easier to treat.
  • Five fat-free candies that are low in sugar
  • Of the 37 most popular Halloween candies, these five have the lowest fat and sugar content.5
  • Jolly Ranchers – Three of these hard candies have 70 calories, no fat, and 11 grams of sugar.
  • Blow Pops – This candy/gum combo has 60 calories, no fat, and 13 grams of sugar.
  • Gobstoppers – Nine pieces of this confection have 60 calories, no fat, and 14 grams of sugar.
  • Pixy Stix – Seven straws have 60 calories, no fat, and 15 grams of sugar.
  • Candy Corn – A perennial favorite, 19 pieces of candy corn have 140 calories, no fat, and 32 grams of sugar.