Vampires, witches, and ghouls may be spooky, but the scariest part of Halloween is the amount of sugary treats we eat each year. For many, Halloween marks the beginning of the “holiday season,” a time where experts say Americans typically gain between 2-3 pounds. Although the spirits and goblins will be making their way to our door steps, it is important to remember healthy eating habits.
Increased awareness on importance of healthy eating to prevent chronic diseases, like Diabetes and Heart Disease doesn’t take a holiday. Focusing more on Halloween activities and alternatives to sweets is one step in preventing obesity and its associated chronic illnesses. When shopping for trick-or-treaters, consider buying less sugary treats like single packs of sugar-free gum, pretzels, and trail mix. Many non-food items can also serve as giveaways, such as:
- Stickers and temporary tattoos
- Play dough
- Colorful Pencils and Erasers
- Mini yo-yos
Halloween doesn’t have to be all about treat, however. Activities such as bobbing for apples, making handmade costumes and carving and painting pumpkins are alternatives ways to celebrates, yet keep you and your child’s sugar intake to a minimum.
Upcycling the pumpkin seeds from your jack-o-lantern can also make for a delicious, yet healthy snack. Roast the seeds, tossed, with your favorite spices, on a pan with non-stick spray for 25 minutes at 325 degrees. If baking for the spooktacular day, make simple tweaks to your recipe to decrease the amount of sugar and fats. For example, replace oil with applesauce, mashed bananas or plain canned pumpkin. Reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe, yet still keep the sweetness, by adding vanilla extract or spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
For more ways to stay healthy this Halloween season, visit Pinterest.com, and search “healthy Halloween” for fun, yet health centered snacks and activities.
By Sarah Torres, 2013 Dietetic Intern Simmons College