Today about 1 in 3 kids in the United States are considered overweight or obese, and many parents and adults are looking for ways to help kids lead healthy lifestyles. As part of this trend, parents are making different choices about the treats they hand out at Halloween, too.
Yes, Halloween is a holiday known for its chocolaty goodness. But you can make it a little more health-conscious by swapping sugar-laden candy treats with our five candy alternatives.
Tip: When your own trick-or-treaters return with their loot, emphasize moderation. A little chocolate isn't a bad thing, but a little can go a long way.
5: Pre-packaged Snacks
Instead of giving away chocolate bars and candy, pick up healthier pre-packaged options this Halloween. Replace chocolate bars with granola bars and fruit chews with dried fruit packs. Also consider adding single serving bagged pretzels, juice boxes and cheese sticks to your treat bowl, but keep them low-calorie, low-fat versions.
Though it sounds like a good idea, handing out fresh fruit or homemade treats isn't necessarily a good idea unless you really know your neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Most parents will throw suspect food items away in an effort to keep kids safe.
If it just doesn't feel like Halloween without candy, adjust the portion sizes: offer bite-sized candy or sugar-free items instead of full-sized or full-sugar. Willy Wonka may need to cut back the Oompa Loompa's hours at the factory.
4: Stickers and Other Halloween-themed Supplies
Break from Halloween candy tradition with a trip to your local school supply store. School supplies? Sure. But think less wide-ruled paper and more in the realm of orange and black.
Halloween-themed pencils, stickers, coloring books and crayons or markers are often front and center in discount store displays, right along with the costumes and decorations. Crayola, for example, has you covered with their Halloween Crayon Treat Pack. Not only do they last longer than a candy bar, they inspire kids' imagination - which is exactly what this holiday should do.
This one skews a little to the younger crowd, but they are often the ones who are more excited about the costumes and the Halloween experience anyway - not just for the candy!
What could be more fun this Halloween than getting (or giving) tattoos? Not real tattoos (would that be considered a trick or a treat?), but temporary ones. Kids of all ages can have fun with temporary tattoos and you can find age-appropriate styles at many party supply stores -- everything from Halloween-themed to butterflies, princesses, pirates and dragons. For added glamour grab glitter or glow in the dark types.
Temporary tattoos are applied with water and generally stay on skin for a few days. Remove at any time with rubbing alcohol.
2: Toyin' Around
Since when does a treat always mean candy? One healthy way of substituting something healthy for candy at Halloween is to forgo handing out candy altogether. (Parents of kids with braces will thank you for it!)
Instead, visit a local dollar store or bulk grocery outlet and pick up a supply of Play-doh, small containers of bubbles, plastic jewelry, glow-sticks, even vampire teeth - anything small, inexpensive and fun for kids. If it glows in the dark, even better for Halloween.
Make sure to choose a variety of toys to cover the all ages of kids who will be visiting your house, and keep the small plastic toys out of the hands of little ones to prevent choking.
1: Toothpaste and Floss Kit
Sounds like a trick, doesn't it? Well, kids might thank you in the long run.
Let's face it: A bag full of sticky and sweet Halloween candy not only is bad for the waist but for the teeth as well. Sweet, starchy and sticky foods hang around in our mouths longer than other foods and cause acid to develop -- within about 5 minutes of eating those foods -- and that acid can lead to tooth decay. Healthy foods make for healthy teeth, but don't neglect good oral hygiene!Kids should brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount fluoride toothpaste. Remember to replace toothbrushes every three months, or when the bristles look worn out.