Open Accessibility Menu

How to Make Halloween Healthier

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler

child reaching for candyThese facts aren’t a trick, and they’re certainly not a treat:

  • Nearly one in three American children are overweight.
  • For the first time in decades, the number of cavities that U.S. kids have is increasing.
  • The average Halloween haul represents from 3,500 to 7,000 calories. If a 100-pound youngster consumed all 7,000 calories in one sitting, that likely nauseous child would have to walk for some 44 hours or play full-court basketball for 14.5 hours in order to burn off all those chocolate-covered calories!

While no one is suggesting that Halloween should be deleted from the calendar, ATRIO Health Plans is encouraging parents to take some simple steps designed to make Halloween a healthier annual affair.

Halloween Checklist

When Oct. 31 arrives, follow this Halloween checklist:

  • Fill up tummies first – Before hitting the trick-or-treat trail, sit down with your little ghosts and goblins and enjoy a meal that’s both nutritious and filling. Think whole-wheat pasta, turkey tacos, or chicken tenders along with a side of fruit salad. The goal is to fill up the kiddos before heading out so they won’t be tempted to snack from door-to-door.
  • Consider non-traditional treats – While you’re unlikely to be a hit with neighborhood kids by handing out kale chips or salmon snacks, there are plenty of non-traditional, healthy treats that youngsters actually like. This year consider: animal crackers; granola bars; whole-grain cheddar-cheese crackers; trail mix; organic pretzels; 100% juice boxes; 100% fruit strips/ropes; or graham-cracker cookies.
  • Ban pillowcases – For starters, make it clear that pillowcases are meant to cover pillows and not for collecting a cargo-container’s worth of candy. Not only should you provide your children with reasonably sized trick-or-treat bags, but you also should establish a take one-treat-per-house rule.
  • Lace up their shoes – Plenty of kids want their parents to serve as chauffeurs come Oct. 31 so more houses can be hit, thus maximizing the Halloween haul. This is the time to put your foot down, and that means not on the gas pedal. While walking house-to-house is hardly a triathlon, it is physical activity – something many youngsters don’t do frequently enough.
  • Set limits – Once your kids have made the trick-or-treating rounds, the first priority is inspecting the goodies they’ve gathered to ensure nothing poses a danger. After that, set clear limits regarding how much Halloween loot they can consume per day. Nutritionists recommend a daily limit of no more than three pieces.
  • Send to our soldiers – In 2005, a Wisconsin dentist started a Halloween Candy Buy-Back Program, paying kids $1 per pound for their Halloween candy. Through a partnership with Operation Gratitude, the candy – along with toothbrushes, floss, and mouthwash – was sent to U.S. troops overseas. Today, dentists nationwide participate in the Buy-Back Program. Last year, the program donated some 580,000 pounds of candy as well as 16,000 toothbrushes.

Why not ask your children if they’d be willing to sell at least some of their treats and brighten the day of American service members. Your kids will be doing a good deed, while also benefiting their growing bodies. To find a participating dentist in your area, visit