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Halloween Tricks and Treats to Keep Your Family on Track

By Alysa Ferguson, RD, CDE

The pumpkin is carved, the costumes are ready, it’s time to trick-or-treat! If your family is like most, this can mean a month or more of candy laying around everywhere. While candy and treats can and should be a part of Halloween for children (yes, even children with diabetes), there are some things families can keep in mind to keep it from getting out of hand.

Shop late and selectively  
If you’re concerned about beginning the candy fest before October 31st, don’t buy it so far in advance that you or your family will be tempted to dig in. When you do finally buy the candy, consider buying options that won’t be particularly tempting, and consider keeping it out of sight. You may even want to consider giving something other than candy: mini bags of pretzels, small toys, pencils, or stickers.

Start new traditions
Think creatively about other ways to celebrate the holiday. Host a costume party where kids can bob for apples and paint their faces like ghosts and goblins. Of course you can serve festive snacks, but this can teach young children that the holiday is about dressing up and enjoying time with friends and family.

Smart Treats
Mix 1-2 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin into oatmeal for breakfast, toast pumpkin seeds for snack time, or dip apples in caramel and peanuts for dessert. Halloween is a great opportunity to get creative with your children in the kitchen. For more healthy ideas, click on the links below.

Setting limits
As with anything in nutrition, moderation is key. While the day of Halloween may be a free-for-all, make sure your kids at least eat dinner so they are not eating out of hunger. After Halloween, set a rule as to how many pieces of candy your child can eat each day, and stick to it. This rule should apply to all children, as no child should be singled out for a weight or health problem. It should apply to the adults as well – never underestimate the power of role modeling!

Share, Trade, Donate
Some parents allow their kids to trade in their candy for toys or games. Another idea might be to let your children donate their candy or send it to troops overseas (check out “Operation Gratitude” below). After your children have enjoyed some candy treats, they can enjoy the feeling of giving to others!

Additional Resources:
Healthy Halloween Treats

Feeding Preschoolers – Healthy Halloween Treats

Operation Gratitude – Halloween Candy Program

Alysa Ferguson is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Family Health Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. She can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 342 or at


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