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Halloween is just around the corner and one of my favorite times of the year! But with little ones, there is always that part of me that groans at the thought of thwarting (or at least, minimizing) one aspect of the night: sugar.
Sugar is the ghastly ghoul that is the cause for much excitement, and whose presence quickly morphs a sweetly-costumed child into a frazzle-brained tasmanian devil. There is a difference between a wild child and a child that is wild on sugar. My kids’ eyes glaze over and they seem trapped in a body and emotional state to which they have no control. Sounds like the plot-line for a horror movie!
All melodrama aside, it’s true that even if your kids are still relatively young for trick-or-treating and don’t fully grasp the concept yet, there is still an over-abundance of sweets readily available at every turn around Halloween time. There’s no way of completely getting around it, and this IS a holiday about having some good old fashioned fun! So, here are a few ways of avoiding sweets overload while still having a frightfully good time:
For Younger Kids
Limit the Options
Chocolate is the one of the few types of candy that we let our kids eat on Halloween. Why? Because it’s the lesser of two evils, in my opinion. Would I rather my kids eat pure sugar, dyed with all types of food coloring, with ingredients that don’t even look like real words, let alone real food, or some nice quality chocolate? I’m going to go with chocolate.
Things we like to avoid include anything with: food coloring, gumminess (with the exception of chewing gum), extreme sourness, super stickiness, and powder-like substances i.e. pixie sticks. Maybe this chocolate logic is flawed, and this list of items is based on our personal preference, but I still stand by the notion of limits!
Also, avoid any sweet drinks like soda or punch and stick with water if at all possible. The older kiddos will need it, not only for staying hydrated for their trek around the neighborhood, but also to – hopefully! – dilute some of that sugar that’s coursing through their veins!
Quality Over Quantity
If this is the time of year to go crazy with the sweets, why not choose the good stuff? Slip some high quality sweets into their treat bag in exchange for some of the not-so-great options listed above. Alter Eco Dark Cacao Organic Chocolate with Crunchy Cocoa Nibs and Alter Eco Dark Quinoa Organic Chocolate are our two family favorites at the moment.
It’s easy to find high-quality chocolates, but what about other treats? There are more options these days when it comes to sugar-free, and I don’t mean the fake stuff. Our kids love gum just like their Mama did as a kid, so we buy gum sweetened with Xylitol. Health food stores usually have a good array of sweet alternatives and organic treats in the candy department.
I went to our local health food store and did a round up of some great options:
1. Surf Sweets Gummy Worms – Made with organic sweeteners, fruit juice, natural flavors and colors.
2. Alter Eco Organic Velvet Truffles – Non-GMO and Fair Trade Certified
3. Organic Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Almonds – These are made locally by the health food store, worth checking out if you health food store makes their own chocolates because a lot of them do!
4. YumEarth Organics Lollipops – Made with organic fruit juice, no artificial dyes, Non-GMO, no corn syrup
5. Stretch Island Fruit Chews – Non-GMO, no added sugar, no preservatives, pure fruit
6. Stretch Island Fruit Co. Fruit Leather – My kids LOVE these things. Pure fruit, no added sugar, no preservatives.
7. YumEarth Organics Cheeky Lemon Drops – No artificial dyes, real fruit, soy-free, no high-fructose corn syrup
8. Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans – No artificial flavors or colors, Non-GMO, no corn syrup
9. SunSpire Milk Chocolate Sun Drops – No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
Create your own goodie bag tailored to your kids’ own personal tastes and offer it to them in exchange for the questionable items in their trick or treat bag. I could wrap a chocolate bar in pink and purple and put Cars stickers all over it and I can guarantee my son will choose that over anything else. [Insert evil laugh here]
For Older Kids
Eat a good dinner… and dessert! This is a similar idea to the Quality over Quantity. If you bake a high-quality, decadent sweet treat from scratch, you at least know what’s going into it. Eating a good dinner beforehand, followed by a delicious homemade dessert will curb that sweet tooth long enough to get through the night.
Set expectations early
This may seem a bit extreme, but if you really are worried about the kids going overboard, then this is the way to go: only allow them a set amount of candy.
My sister and her husband have done this with their kids since they were little and that is the expectation. Every Halloween, they get to pick a amount of candy from their trick-or-treat bags that they get to eat that night. The rest goes into a basket for later. The kids don’t fuss about it much because they already know the rules. There is something to be said about delayed gratification (Marshmallow Test, anyone?) – it builds character!
For Every Age
The Non-Edible Option
Not all kids like sweets. Our 4-year-old enjoys them, but definitely has a limit. Consider giving them fun things like stickers and temporary tattoos. One year, for Halloween party favors I made little orange and black Kaleidocycles which were a big hit for the kids (and adults!).
This all may seem pretty convoluted for one night of merrymaking, but I think we can all agree that sugar isn’t doing anyone any favors. Even if you apply just one of these tips, your kids can still enjoy Halloween without going overboard.