10 Healthy Halloween tips for the whole family

Oct 22, 2009 at 1:16 p.m. ET

Halloween is anticipatedly marked with spooky costumes, scary movies, ghoulish get-togethers and frightening fun. The candy-filled holiday can also be a sinister detriment to your family's diet. Dr Margaret Lewin, medical director of health benefits provider Cinergy Health, shares the following tips to keep your family from over-indulging in trick-or-treat candies and Halloween party sweets.


Healthy Halloween tips to resist calorie-laden sweets and treats

1. Don't plan ahead

Instead of stocking up on candy as soon as it goes on sale (which is usually right after Labor Day), buy treats only a day or so before Halloween. This will keep you from consuming extra candy calories for weeks before Halloween even arrives.

2. Hide the Halloween treats

To avoid temptation, keep treats in an inconvenient, difficult-to-reach place until Halloween arrives. At work and at home, fill candy bowls with healthier snacks such as mini-packs of raisins or pretzels.

3. Forgo your favorite Halloween sweets

Buy treats that you and your family don't particularly like, which will make it easier to resist mindless munching.

4. Buy healthier treats

Mini-packs of M&Ms and miniature peanut butter cups are certainly trick-or-treat favorites. And though smaller portions of candy are better than standard- or jumbo-sized, mini-packs are also easily eaten in excess.

Replace candy with mini-packs of healthier snacks such as:

  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • 100 percent juice
  • Sugar-free hot chocolate mix
  • Trail mix
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Sugar-free gum

5. Treat with non-edible goodies

Though many kids may think anything but candy in their bag is a trick, treating them with non-edible items that are kid-friendly can keep you from being the ghoul parent on the block.

Try non-edible treats such as:

  • Stick-on temporary tattoos
  • Mini bottles of bubble bath or blow bubbles
  • Costume accessories such as wax false teeth or a stick-on mustache
  • Sidewalk chalk

6. Begin the Halloween festivities with a full stomach

Just as you don't want to enter a supermarket starving (you'll end up buying food on impulse and possibly snacking on it in the car on the way home), start your Halloween evening after a healthy dinner. You and your kids will be less tempted to snack on candy or party sweets because you won't be ravenous.

7. Pick through the trick-or-treat bag

Instead of just letting your kids sneak off to their room with all the candy they've acquired, go through the treat bag when you arrive home. Discard any outrageously unhealthy treats or those with questionable packaging.

8. Limit candy consumption before it starts

Letting your kids free-feed on Halloween candy until it's gone sets your kids up for cranky afternoons, skipped meals, and weight gain, which isn't pleasant for you or them. Limit your family's candy consumption by putting treats in a difficult-to-reach location and dispense them one at a time on a scheduled basis, such as dessert time.

9. Take a breather

You may be successful in limiting your kids' candy consumption, but having candy in the house can be hard to resist for you. When you yourself get that urge to indulge, take a look at your watch and wait 10 minutes. Consider going for a short walk or simply getting out of the house. By forgoing the candy urge and giving yourself some breathing time, you may find you don't even want that piece of candy after all.

10. Dump the Halloween stash

Set a date – maybe two weeks after Halloween – when you'll get rid of the Halloween leftovers. If you don't feel good about throwing them away, give them to someone else.

More healthy Halloween tricks and treats