Enjoy Halloween without overindulging

Strategies for maintaining healthy outlook during, after trick-or-treat

Halloween presents a good opportunity for parents to discuss healthy eating habits with their children, according to experts.

“The Halloween season is a great time for parents to teach eating in moderation, and all food can fit into a healthy eating lifestyle,” said Becky Gonter-Dray, a pediatric dietitian at Dayton (Ohio) Children’s Medical Center.

Children should learn to eat candy, along with other food rich in sugar and fat, in moderation, said Gonter-Dray, who is board certified as a specialist in pediatric nutrition.

“Eating too much candy can possibly lead to a stomach ache, and long-term possibly (leads) to poor oral health,” she said.

As Halloween approaches, we asked Gonter-Dray to offer parents and children advice for avoiding temptation this Halloween season.

  • "Consider handing out fun, non-food Halloween treats: play dough, plastic spider rings, pencils, mini-note pads, stickers and erasers."
  • "Modify the food Halloween treats you may hand out. Think individual packets: microwave popcorn, pretzels, trail mix, animal crackers, whole wheat and cheese crackers, sugar free pudding cups, mini (boxes) of raisins and sugar free gum. Switch from large candy bars to snack-sized ones."
  • "Eat a healthy snack or dinner before heading out for trick-or-treating. The children need their energy for the night ahead."
  • "Trick or treat for the first hour. Participate in a family fun Halloween activity for the second hour." For example, bob for apples or play flashlight tag, Gonter-Dray said.
  • "Review the treats gathered before eating any. Allow the children to eat a couple pieces of candy that evening, and then, practice balance and moderation with one to three pieces a day thereafter."
  • "Remind the children that their trick-or-treating is great exercise, too. Continue family active outings in your neighborhoods or area's parks."
  • "Recycle your candy. Hold back some for later in the year, incorporate candy into artwork and freeze the chocolate."