Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Healthy Halloween 10-23-14

Boo! It’s nearly Halloween, and you know what that means. You and your kids are about to be besieged by candy. Now, we’re not going to be ghouls and suggest you don’t eat any. But maybe, just maybe, there are some healthier ways to indulge.


Let’s start with the time-honored tradition of buying candy for trick-or-treaters. Wow, talk about temptation. Those mini candy bars sit in your kitchen for days or weeks ahead of time (because you just had to get the best selection, didn’t you), and all the while they’re calling…calling. How long do you think it’s going to be before you break? You’ve got to play it smarter than that. Try these tips:


  • Don’t buy candy more than a couple days before Halloween.
  • While you’re at it, don’t buy your favorite candy. (Who are you buying for, hmm?)
  • Pick dark chocolate over milk chocolate—less sugar, more antioxidants.
  • Store the candy somewhere out of sight.
  • If you want to indulge, then select a handful for yourself and give the rest away.
  • Consider giving out small age-appropriate toys instead of candy—a lot of kids may prefer them.


Next step, trick-or-treating with kids. The trick is to let them enjoy some treats without undermining all your efforts to instill healthy eating habits. These tips can help:


  • Head out with full tummies. If your kids have eaten a good meal, they will be less likely to snack on candy as they trick-or-treat (or pig out on it at home).


  • Limit the amount of candy they can collect. Send them out with appropriately sized bags—no pillow cases. Encourage taking just one candy per house.


  • Limit the amount of candy they can eat. There are several ways. You could:
    • Let kids choose their 20 favorite pieces from the stash to keep.
    • Limit kids to 1–3 pieces a day, preferably with meals or a healthy snack.
    • Store candy out of sight. They’ll have to ask for it…if they remember.
    • Store candy in the freezer. They’ll have to wait for it to thaw.


  • Buy their candy. A lot of kids are willing to exchange candy for money (say a dime a piece). Also, check to see if your local dentists have a buy-back program.


  • Make trick-or-treating about fun and exercise. Go as a family. Walk, don’t drive. And set a goal for how many doors you will knock on.


We get it…candy is part of Halloween. (We’re not monsters!) So enjoy a few treats—but do it within the context of an overall healthy diet. And teach your kids how to do that.







American Heart Association. (2013). How to have a heart-healthy Halloween. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from


Nemours. (n.d.). Healthy Halloween habits: Tips from parents. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from


Schwartz, M. B., Chen, E., & Brownell, K. D. (2003). Trick, treat, or toy: Children are just as likely to choose toys as candy on Halloween [Abstract]. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 35(4), 207–209.


Stanford University. (n.d.). Healthier Halloween strategies. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from