Trick or Treat?

The long standing tradition on Halloween is for children to roam the neighborhood dressed up in spooky garb asking neighbors for treats, namely candy. If a treat was not forthcoming, then the children could play a “trick” on that neighbor. With all we know about the negative impact on our health from too much sugar consumption, especially for children, who is really getting tricked in this situation?

Animal Crackers
Animal Crackers / stevendepolo / CC BY 2.0

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 36 million kids aged five to thirteen go trick-or-treating each year. There are actually many more children trick-or-treating if you add in those children younger than five and older than thirteen. In 2009, the per capita consumption of candy was over 24 pounds per person. It is thought that much of that candy is consumed throughout the holidays at this time of year, starting with what children eat during Halloween.

With the best health for our children in mind, there has been a small movement by parents to shift traditional treats on Halloween away from candy to healthier alternatives. This will not be an easy shift, as Americans spend $2 billion on candy during Halloween. But for those of us determined to start new traditions for our children, you may find some ideas below to help your small piece of the movement forward.

Try these healthier alternatives to give out as treats on Halloween:

Non-food Ideas

  • coins
  • school supplies such as pencils, markers, erasers
  • stickers

Food Ideas

  • granola bars
  • single servings of:
    • animal crackers
    • craisins
    • nuts or seeds
    • popcorn
    • trail mix
    • whole wheat pretzels
  • small boxes of raisins
  • 100% fruit juice boxes