What may be the most frightening to you at Halloween is not ghosts or goblins but the thought of what all that candy can do to your kids’ health and teeth. Here are some ideas for healthy treats, and recommendations for ones to avoid.
“Everything in moderation,” says Connie Evers, registered dietitian and author of How to Teach Nutrition to Kids. “I tell parents to cut down on the amount of candy they hand out. In America we tend to do everything in excess and kids will go to a house and get a huge handful.”
Think beyond candy: Trick-or-treating coupons from places like Dunkin’ Donuts are always a hit with kids and they give parents control over what their kids eat. “I know a dentist who gives out floss or toothbrushes,” says Evers. “And there’s a new product, Oral Brush-Ups, which middle school kids love.”
Even better, throw a party instead of sending your kids trick-or-treating. “You can have a variety of healthy snacks like mini sandwiches, nachos, and pizzas, so it’s not all sugar and candy,” says Evers.
Put aside your fears about being the not-so-cool parents on the block and try passing out some of these healthier treats:
- Sugarless gum
- Corn nuts, peanuts, or trail mix
- Small individual bags of pretzels or popcorn
- Packages of sugar-free cocoa
- Individual bags of roasted pumpkin seeds
- Pre-packed cheese and crackers
Try to avoid or limit these unhealthy snacks:
- Sticky treats like gummy candies, jelly beans, raisins and caramels are bad for dental health.
- Full-sized candy bars. Some chocolate bars contain high amounts of saturated fat. The worst offenders are Mounds (11 grams of saturated fat in a two-ounce bar), Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar (nine grams in 1.5 ounces) and Almond Joy (eight grams in 1.7 ounces).
- Chips Ahoy!, Oreos, Hostess HOHOs and other snack cakes, Keebler Club & Cheddar Sandwich Crackers, and Starburst Fruit Chews were all voted the worst vending machine snacks for kids by Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Don’t forget to give your kids a nutritious meal before they go trick-or-treating. This will prevent sugar highs and nasty upset tummies!