I really enjoy hosting Halloween parties and participating in trick-or-treating. It’s funny, though: Halloween can be a tricky topic to discuss when people know you are a dietitian. They expect you to play the role of party-pooper because treats are indulgent foods and Halloween is a celebration of them. Dietitians are not the food police. We’re focused on helping people find balance, practice moderation, and enjoy healthful indulging. For this month’s Nutritious Nudge, I want to share some tips for hosting a healthy Halloween party. Spoiler: candy still made the invite list.
Balance treats with snacks.
Halloween is just one day a year. What you eat every day has the most impact on your nutrition and health. You shouldn’t feel guilty about indulging more than usual on Halloween, but it’s still a good idea to mix in more nutritious snacks with your tasty treats. We have plenty of delicious and better-for-you treat recipes available if you want to try them.
Serve a few simple snacks for everyone to enjoy so they’re not eating Halloween candy or cupcakes on an empty stomach. You can form festive shapes like a jack-o’-lantern, ghost, or skeleton by placing vegetables on a platter with dip. Halloween cookie cutters work well on fruit and you can use them to make small sandwich cutouts too. Children are especially drawn to these creations and it encourages healthy snacking.
Get everyone up and moving.
Food should complement your party’s fun, not be the “main event.” You can have a costume parade or contest. Queue up a Halloween playlist to encourage dancing in silly costumes. Plan fun Halloween themed activities or games like a scavenger hunt or mummy relay race to get people up and moving. Before long, everyone will be feeling good.
Rethink your drinks.
What you drink is as important as what you eat. Sugary drinks like regular soda and sweetened tea contain added sugars and offer little or no nutrients. By limiting your consumption of sugary drinks, you can make more room for sweet treats. Make fun ice cubes in Halloween themed trays from 100% juice or add slices of fruit to make water more exciting.
This Mulled Cider is a team favorite and it has no added sugar. Mix up a batch for your party with fresh apple cider and keep it warm in a slow cooker.
Don’t use food in prizes or favors.
This tip is most relevant for children. When food is given as a reward, children start to connect it with something good or bad, rather than seeing it as food to fuel their body. In the long run, that can lead to emotional eating as adults and cause an unhealthy relationship with food.
Children (and their parents) will get plenty of candy from trick-or-treating. Instead of using food prizes for games or party favors, give small toys. Things like temporary tattoos, stickers, small plastic spiders or ghosts, spooky plastic rings or false teeth work great.