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Healthy Halloween!

Halloween conjures up images of sweet treats ranging from homemade caramel apples and creamy pumpkin pies to bags filled to the brim with candy.

But with the growing epidemics of childhood obesity and type II diabetes, many Americans are looking for more health-conscious ways to celebrate the holiday, says Jo Carol Chezem, a nutrition professor. She suggests choosing lower-calorie alternatives, watching portion sizes and adjusting the focus from foods to activities.

When gathering the treats you will offer this year think about some possible low-calorie, low-fat options. Barbara Farner, nutrition and wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension located at the Matteson Extension Center offers some suggestions:

  • Cheese and cracker packages

  • Sugar-free gum

  • Cheese sticks

  • Juice box packages

  • Small packages of nuts or raisins

  • Package of instant cocoa mix

  • Peanuts in the shell

She agrees with many other experts who suggest that you consider giving some "non-food treats such as stickers, balloons, crayons, pencils, colored chalk, erasers, whistles, baseball cards or rubber spiders and worms."

She adds,"A friend of mine used to give nickels, in today's economy that may need to be dimes."

Pat Kendall, Ph.D., R.D., Food Science and Human Nutrition Specialist at Colorado State University Cooperative Extension adds:

  • individually wrapped sticks of beef jerky

  • coupons good at local fast food establishments

Healthy Halloween treatsKendall makes the point that non-sweet alternatives are not a bad substitute. She says, "...on chilly Halloween nights, what would be more welcome than a package of instant cocoa mix? Once home, it could be combined with hot water to help wash down other treats that were received."


also see in the Recipe File -> Halloween Spaghetti and Eyeballs

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

The Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard University in Massachusetts also has some ideas:

  • Trade candy bars for small trinkets or a special present

  • Barrettes, hair bows/ribbons/jewelry

  • Action figures, matchbox cars and trucks

  • A movie or video

  • Money to use for something the trick-or-treater wants

The surprise from this source is that a small candy bar may even fit into the diet of a diabetic child. They advise, "if a child's meal plan says that he or she can have 60 grams of carb for dinner, for example, a small piece of candy can be incorporated into that calculation on a given evening."

If candy is the treat of choice in your community, there are still ways to keep it under control. Allow each child to pick four or five pieces of candy to eat. The rest is stored for the next day... the ritual can be extended until the candy is all gone.

Finally, discover how dental hygiene can even become part of your family's Halloween tradition! - or so says the LSU Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry which simply advises, "Make the last treats of the day a new brightly colored toothbrush and flavored dental floss."

More about healthy Halloween treats around the Web:

64 Non-Candy Halloween Snack Ideas

Healthy Halloween Treats

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