What are Some Healthy Alternatives to Handing out Candy at Halloween?

As a dietitian, this time of year always causes me some anxiety. I am torn between standing firm in my beliefs on healthy eating, and trying to “one-up” the neighbors by providing the best and biggest Halloween “loot” on the block. We are all after that “Best Halloween Candy Dispenser Award,” after all, so why should the initials behind my name stop me?

One year, I tried giving out “Scarrots” – cute individual packets of baby carrots. I thought this was an ingenious idea, but I was quickly shot down by my four children who all said, “Seriously, Mom?????” in unison. Needless to say, I got the same reaction from the ghosts and goblins that arrived at my door that night.

While carrots might not be the favorite choice for a candy alternative, here are several that deserve some consideration. Many of these can be purchased in bulk at your local party store, or online at www.orientaltrading.com. Be sure to have several options that are age appropriate as some of these may be choking hazards to your young trick-or-treaters.

  • Stickers – not just Halloween or fall, but sports, ballerina, animal, etc.        
  • Temporary tattoos                                                                              
  • School supplies – erasers, pencil toppers, gel pens, markers, and crayons
  • Glow sticks or glow jewelry
  • Plastic jewelry
  • Plastic animals or insects
  • Mini coloring or activity books
  • Bubbles
  • Plastic straws
  • Key chains
  • Bouncy balls
  • Small toy cars
  • Mini play dough
  • Magnets
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Jacks
  • Spinning tops

If you do want to still provide food, consider one of these healthier options:

  • 4-oz. organic juice box
  • Pretzels
  • Mini raisin boxes
  • Sugar-free gum
  • 100% fruit, fruit snacks such as Bare Fruit.Natural microwave popcorn, such as Newman’s Own mini’s

And of course, there is always the “scarrot” option! Come on; they come with cute little “scarrot” tattoos. That brings up another point: If you are nervous about breaking tradition, you might consider offering a small candy and a non-food alternative.

By Brenda Leigh, registered dietitian/exercise physiologist, ThedaCare, Appleton.