contemplating a candy-free halloween

Bring on the trick-or-treaters!

I look forward to it. This is the first time my husband and I will have a chance to open our door, see youngsters’ creative costumes and share a small something with them as a way of partaking in the festivities. One thing makes me hesitate: Sugar.

Thinking back to my childhood Halloweens, I relished the piles of candy, choosing the most chocolatey option if I had the opportunity. Friends and I eagerly approached the large houses in hopes that a wealthy person would give us full- or king-size candy bars.

The non-candy things were either lame (bundles of pennies), discarded by Mom (homemade goods) or useless (plastic spider rings).

Still wanting to participate in treat-giving, I typed “healthy Halloween” into Google. Seeing a result from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I felt optimistic, but the recommendations were vague, common-sense and disappointing:

“[A]utumn events like Halloween and Harvest Day are fun times to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, attend parties, and eat yummy treats. These events are also opportunities to provide nutritious snacks … ”

Yay! Like what?

“Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.”

OK, yeah.

“Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks.”

Good. Like WHAT? Most seasonal drinks, like hot chocolate and apple cider, are sugar-laden, too. (Obviously this wasn’t helpful. Moving on.)

Some sources led me to think I should trust parents to monitor their kids’ sweets consumption. While I like that idea and know many parents who are great at such tactics, I’d rather not contribute to the sugar overload in the first place. And I enjoyed finding great recipes, but I know from my own experiences that there’s a good chance they’ll be turned down or thrown out later. If anything bothers me more than scant options for quality food, it’s food waste.

What about those non-food items? I may have felt cheated out of candy or indifferent as a kid, but those inedible items kept my sugar consumption lower than it would have been if everything I received were chocolate-coated treats.

And I remember using a few Halloween-themed pencils year-round.

I found a few lists of non-candy items to give out, like this one from Yahoo and this one, which shows you where you can buy the items.

Pencils may not generate the same excitement a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup would, but they’re useful and won’t contribute to health problems. And I can’t bring myself to ignore an evening of little hands knocking on our front door.

Pencils it is. Try not to hate me, kids.


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