Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the community aspect of it—everyone opening their doors to their neighbors and sharing food. I relish how people, young and old, take the time to play and have fun. I enjoy the spookiness of being out at night and the excitement of never knowing when a ghoul or ghost might jump out at you. I adore the creativity shows up in so many of the costumes.
But the reality is that Halloween can also be stressful, especially for parents. Between school parties, neighborhood gatherings, and trick-or-treating, the amount of sugar that comes into our homes is staggering. It can be challenging to navigate the onslaught of candy, cookies, and other treats that are offered.
How to Handle the Sugar at Halloween
Over the years I have tried a number of approaches to manage the sugar intake, from setting rules and limits to throwing up my hands and letting whatever happens happen. For our family, being strict about the sweets didn’t work. It felt like a never-ending negotiation and battle. It was exhausting and dragged on for months. Similarly, throwing up my hands completely didn’t feel right earlier (there was a constant internal battle to keep my mouth shut that was exhausting).
After a number of different approaches we have found our family’s sweet spot (pun intended) when it comes to Halloween treats and it comes in a few stages:
- I make sure that before we leave for trick or treating that all bellies are full of nutritious food. This is usually in the form of healthy Halloween food that is fun for kids so that they are inspired to eat it.
- During trick or treating all bets are off. The kids can eat as much candy as they want. (Yes, they usually get a stomachache, but I actually think that is an important life lesson and am ok with it.)
- The day after Halloween they again can enjoy as much of their candy as they want (I am usually surprised by how controlled they are after remembering the previous night’s stomachaches).
- After that, their candy is available for their daily treat, should they want it. This means that they can choose to have 2 – 3 pieces of candy for their daily treat or they can select any other option that is available.
This approach has worked well for our family for two reasons: 1) the expectations are clear so the negotiations disappeared and 2) since implementing this approach a few years ago there has always been leftover candy in their pumpkins when the next Halloween comes around, which highlights the fact that they lose interest after a while.
Healthy Halloween Food
I can hear you saying, that sounds all fine and good, but what are these healthy Halloween foods of which you speak? And how much time am I going to spend making them? Below are two of my family’s favorite healthy Halloween foods that you can make in mere minutes (check out our Facebook Live to see how simple they are to make!).
A little bit about each dish.
Whole grain toast, smashed avocado, cheese, a couple of tortilla chips, and some olives or bell peppers are all you need to make this hearty and healthy Halloween food! Kids and adults will love the ghoulish faces they get to eat and you’ll love knowing that their tummies are full of healthy fats and whole grains that will keep them going all evening long.
This super fun meal is ready in only 20 minutes and includes a surprising nutritional powerhouse: sweet potato! By making a quick sweet potato sauté for the sauce, you can pack in anti-oxidants, vitamin C, and a whole lot of fiber to make sure your little ghosts are full for hours.
Like these ideas? Sign up for a two-week free trial of The Scramble’s meal planning service to see how simple and fun feeding your family can be all year round!