5 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Halloween

Halloween is not exactly my favorite holiday.  I’m someone who loves to celebrate life so the heavy emphasis on gore and creepy creatures is not exactly my cup of tea.  And let’s face it,  being the “health freak” that I am, (as my daughters lovingly call me) I could also do without the abundance of sugary treats and junk food. Long gone are the days of home made goodies.

But I know this is a night my daughters anticipate with great excitement.  They spend weeks planning their costumes and their big outing.  I do love to see their creative spirit as they come up with original costumes.

I also remember how much I looked forward to this holiday myself as a kid.  We lived in France where Halloween was not celebrated at the time except by fellow American families.  Families would get together and throw a big bash, with a haunted house and all sorts of games, and of course we could trick or treat for special goodies like caramelized apples and home baked cookies.  I never much cared for the haunted house but I enjoyed dressing up – in a “happy” costume mostly – and having a fun time with my friends.

So we indulge in a evening of silliness, but I’ve learned a few tricks to make the evening fun and still keep it healthy.


[Image credit: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo]

1. Feed everyone before you go

My favorite way to celebrate Halloween is getting together with a group of friends and having a potluck dinner before we head out for trick or treating.  The kids love to play around and I enjoy catching up with friends, sharing a meal and a glass of wine.  And the emphasis in on friendship . It’s also the best way to make sure every one eats a healthy meal before heading out in the hopes of collecting oodles of candy.  We always make sure the girls eat a balanced meal with protein and green veggies.   This will keep them full and give them the stamina to keep going without experiencing a massive sugar crash.  And when their bellies are full they are not as likely to stuff themselves with insane amounts of candy.  We have a rule about this anyways —  the girls can only eat  a handful of pieces as they go. They are usually too busy running from house to house so the candy eating usually takes place after all the collecting has been done.

After a nice meal we head out in big groups which is a ton of fun and allows older kids to run a head while little ones go at a slower pace.

2. Choose your route carefully

When it comes to where to go Trick or Treating in LA, there are plenty of options.  My older daughters prefer to go where many “industry” people live — directors, set and light designers who go all out with decorating their homes and creating a spooky scene. It really becomes a surreal scene with many haunted cemeteries, wondering zombies and other scary creatures of all sorts, smoke machines and whacky soundtracks.  A true paradise for the thrill seeker!

But for my little one it is not the ideal place at all. We made the mistake last year of taking her along, rather than taking her to a more quiet neighborhood as we had done the year before.  Bad choice! We past by a house where jesters with scary masks were running up to passer-by’s with chain saws, delighting in making everyone scream.  One of them came right up to Sabrina and really freaked her out.  It took the fun for everyone out of the rest of the evening.

This year, the older girls will go out with friends and Cris and I will take Sabrina to our neighborhood where things are a lot more tame. She’ll get to trick or treat without being spooked and I can still get her to bed at her usual bed time without her missing out on all the fun.

Older kids will enjoy a long outing and gingerly walk blocks and blocks to fill their bags, but for younger children a couple of blocks will be plenty.

3, Wear comfy shoes

Nothing ruins an evening of trick or treating like the wrong kind of shoes!  Whatever the costume, the girls wears sneakers or boots, and it’s always a pair of shoes that is nicely broken in.  I’ve seen teens in high heels and I just don’t get it. Cowboy boots or other fun accessories that your child has never worn before can give them blisters and there is nothing fun about that.

No matter where we go there’s going to be a lot of walking and I’m much happier when I don’t have to carry anyone.

4. Layer up!

Even in LA temperatures drop off once the sun goes down so make sure to bring a warm layer for everyone, mom included. I usually like to add a warm layer underneath  as well so that the girls can keep warm without covering up their costumes. Hats are the best way to keep body heat in and depending on the nigh I may also bring some gloves.  Kids tend to be oblivious to the cold while they are having fun, but the minute they are done they’re suddenly freezing! When fatigue sets in and the body winds down in anticipation of sleep, body temperature drops and your kids will get chilled.  So plan ahead.

5. Limit candy intake

The girls’ most anticipated moment of the night is when they get to empty their bags and check their loot!  They usually dig in as soon as we get in the car to see how well they scored.  And that is when they are allowed to “indulge” which means eat 5 or 6 pieces of candy max!  With most candies handed out being bite sized these days, I feel a handful is a reasonable amount.  The rest goes into a big class jar and the rule is simple: no more than 2 pieces a day until the candy disappears.

The girls are amazingly good at self control as they respect the 2 candy rule and the jar will stay full for months, except when daddy digs in or mommy carefully removes the pieces of candy I most object to – candies that are nothing more than corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors. Although I’d like to throw away most of the candy, I empower the girls to make their own decisions. They know that junk food will do more harm than good and for the most part will make the right choice.  We’ll keep chocolate goodies around — with Reese’s Peanut Butter cup and Kit-Kats being favorites, and Mars bars, Sneakers and Almond joy coming in close second — but as years go by I find it harder and harder to keep the rest. The more invested in my family’s health I am the harder it is to give then any junk, no matter what the occasion.

Tana Amen, author of The Omni Diet has a great solution for helping her daughter make healthy choices.  She offers her daughter a quarter for each piece of candy she is willing to part with!  My daughters would probably be happy to part with most of their candy if I offered a similar exchange… After all they love shopping. A quarter for each piece of candy might get a little pricey with three girls but I like the idea and may very well have to implement a “buy it back” system of our own.

I’m happy to see many families opting for toys instead of candy to give away to children. It’s trend I’m delighted to embrace — we’ll be giving things like glow in the dark bracelets and bouncy balls, pirate patches and spider rings.  The kids love them just as much and I happier knowing I’m not handing out junk food.

Screen shot 2013-10-29 at 6.19.46 AM

[photos courtesy Oriental Trading Post]

What are your tips for a Happy and Healthy Halloween?

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.