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Healthy Living: A Happy Healthy Halloween!


Halloween was historically a celebration marking the end of summer and the harvest season. Over the centuries, many of the old traditions have endured, just in a slightly different form.

When Halloween was first celebrated in America, the poor would go from door to door asking for “soul cakes” in exchange for prayers for the family’s lost loved ones. The old “soul cakes” tradition has transformed into what we know today as trick or treating.

When I was younger, my family would go to the church fall carnival instead of trick or treating. My brother and I were not there for soul cakes, but candy; lots and lots of candy. As soon as we got home from the carnival, my brother and I would pour all our candy out on the dining room table and begin the great candy trade. (I was allergic to chocolate so Halloween was not as fun for me as it was for my brother.)

If you want your children to experience the fun of Halloween, it does not mean you have to let them overdose on the sugar. Many children end up coming home with enough candy to last them a month! Instead, think of ways to limit the sugar shock, both for your own family and the neighborhood kids:

Hand out healthier treats: Candy bars aren’t your only option.

  • Fruit makes a nice alternative. Consider Full Circle raisins that have a NuVal score of 8, apples with a NuVal score of 96, bananas with a NuVal score of a 91 or oranges with a NuVal score of 100.
  • Food is not the only thing that you can pass out. You can also give out pencils, stickers, glow sticks and crayons.
  • Many snack companies have gotten the message and sell small treat-size packages of better-for-kids snacks like pretzels, goldfish crackers, fruit wraps or granola bars. If you have leftovers after the trick-or-treaters are all gone, these foods are better suited to after-school snacks, sports team practices, or to pop into a lunch box, too.

Donate some of the haul:  Instead of having candy left all over your house for a month, look into a local candy buy-back program. Many dentists have a program where they “buy back” candy from children and send the candy overseas to our armed forces. Double win: You get the candy out of your house, and you donate to the brave men and women who are protecting our country. If you can’t find a candy buy-back program near you, check online for programs that send candy to our brave soldiers.


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