Halloween is upon us and it is time to get scary! What is really scary is how addictive sugar is. Even more terrifying is that it’s now a cultural norm to give out bags of it to local kids and pass by mounds of it piled on office desk corners. It is no coincidence that following the first week of November a ton of kids are home sick from school- sugar causes an immunity crash. Parents struggle with how to best navigate this holiday- but it can be a challenge for anyone. Here are WILDFIT’s suggestions for having a healthy Halloween.
1. Hand out non-edible treats the keep kids safe
No one is saying you need to be “that person” who hands out toothbrushes (like me), but you can offer something that is not candy and still have fun. A great pick would be glow sticks, mini flashlights or glow balls to light their way as they walk around and increase visibility. Bubbles, stickers, and temporary tattoos are all great too! This will ensure you are promoting a healthy Halloween. Don’t worry about your final choice too much, the point is to make a big deal about the kids costumes and connect with your neighbors.
2. If you do hand out a snack, have it be water
We would love for you to give out handmade fruit leathers and the like- but sadly these days often they aren’t allowed or trusted and just get tossed by parents. Packaged fruit snacks and dried fruit are great too- but they still have a ton of sugar.
Kids get dehydrated running around, especially if they are eating candy as they go. Help them stay safe (and avoid a sugar hangover) by handing out water. Usually they will drink it right away and appreciate the extra flood of energy they feel afterwards. Bonus- they may need to pee which means parents get to end the night (and candy fest) earlier than usual. We are not fans of bottled water, but in this instance it may be the lesser of two evils healthwise. Remind kids to recycle the bottles as they leave your doorstep, or offer for them to hang out on the porch to finish the refreshment then collect the refuse in a recycling bag. Many kids do not drink enough water, try handing out water this Halloween and keep the children hydrated.
3. Create non-toxic costumes
Half the fun of Halloween is finding a fantastic costume- but this can also be half the harm. Nowadays it’s the norm to buy a one time wear costume made of cheap fabric and plastics. That “plastic” smell you get when you open the package is chemicals off gassing- some of which pose a risk of serious health and environmental problems. PVC is a poison plastic to look out for, as well as phthalate. The worst example would be a full face mask, which means you are breathing in that “plastic” gas the whole time you are wearing it! Cheap costume jewelry and makeup can also contain lead and cadmium, dangerous heavy metals that are known neurotoxins and very dangerous for children, even in small amounts.
So what is the alternative? Make your own costumes at home, create it from closet and thrift store finds, buy second hand costumes (that have had time to offgas already), and make your own face and body paint using cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), body lotion (or coconut oil), water and natural food colorings. It may require a bit more creativity- but at least no one else will have the same costume!
4. Keep a party creative without adding sugar
When we throw a Halloween party- for ourselves or the kids- it can be tempting to create a spread that appeals to the masses. However, keep in mind that the masses are becoming more and more health focused, so you have the opportunity to set the trend ahead of the curve! Focus on super spooky decorations to create a mood, and then fill in the table with creepy whole food treats. We have given you some great ideas all month long, so have a scroll through our social media pages if you haven’t already saved them! You can try Chocolate Spiderweb Cupcakes and Monster Mouths! You can also keep it simple with deviled eggs topped with a pimento olives for Monster Eyes, clementine and celery stem ‘pumpkins’, single serving Candy Corn Parfaits (layered diced pineapple, mango and a dollop of coconut cream), and roasted pumpkin seeds. Add a barrel for apple bobbing covered in cobwebs and you’re set! For those most daring, a pitcher of Goblin Juice, a magic potion with a slightly bitter taste to make you stronger and scarier! Just don’t tell anyone it is Alkagizer and will also make you super healthy- let’s keep that our witchy secret.
5. Even sugar has a shelf life
Finally, if you or your kids are indulging in a bag of treats- check the expiration dates before eating them. Yes- despite what you may think, even these food products that could seemingly survive a nuclear apocalypse, go bad. Candy bars are high in sugar and low in moisture, both of which help to prevent microbial growth, so it is not likely that it will grow mold unless it was contaminated before packaging. For this reason, some of the candy you get this year, was actually produced 2 years ago. What you also need to look out for is any nuts or nut butters and saturated fats, which will go rancid after a few months. A good rule of thumb is that Halloween candy can be eaten until the Holidays, and then it disappears.
Even better? Try swapping out the junk for other goodies or a fun experience for your child (or for yourself!). Then of course you face the tough choice of wasting it by tossing it in the trash or passing along the health harm to others… we leave that up to you!
So there you have it! We wish you a safe and happy Halloween, and look forward to seeing pictures of you in homemade costumes bobbing for apples on our Living WILDFIT and Community pages soon! Do you have a successful new Healthy Halloween strategy or tradition you have created in your family? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!