If you’re like us, you’ve thought about whether you should put out the “regular” candy that is often full of chemicals, dyes and sweeteners. Maybe you’ve questioned how to talk about it with your kids or other parents. Or if you know you don’t want that candy, what options are there that aren’t apples and raisins?
We are here to give you our favorite list of alternative treats to hand out or have at the party. But first, we want to offer some thoughts on the subject of candy and treats at this time of year as well.
To Treat Or Not To Treat
As always with our advice, there are always options – not a “one way fits all” approach – even when it comes to halloween treats. If you want to hand out the typical candy, go for it, you have our full permission. It’s just one night out of the year, you and your kids will be OK. Sometimes allowing yourself or kids to have what everyone else is handing out is the overall better option on the mental (and physical) side of things. Remember this thought, “It’s better to eat the nutrient poor thing with a good attitude, than to eat the nutrient-rich thing with a poor attitude.” The stress hormones in our body from a “poor attitude”, guilt or shame, is often more harmful than the poor quality ingredients you have ONE time every so often.
Have A Plan
So if you do allow for yourself or kids to trick or treat and have some of the candy handed out at the typical Halloween party, then our advice for you then is to have a plan for what you do with that candy the next day. We recommend having a planned out portion for the day of, and if you want, one more for the next day. Otherwise, we say get rid of it! Especially if it’s for you. If it’s around, you’re not only more likely to eat it, but since those ingredients are so rich in sugar and chemicals, you’re going to crave it more and more – which leads to overeating and so many other poor choices.
How To Handle With Kids
If you’re trying to decide what to do with your kids’ candy, there are some options here too. If they are young enough – you can simply replace it with better alternatives by the next day or just get rid of it (have it as a one day thing – they don’t know any different). Or, if they are a bit older, have some boundaries around it – like how much to keep or for how long. Talk about it before, perhaps have a 2 piece rule, allowing them to choose a piece with a meal, or see how they feel eating it (do they get tummy aches?). Have a conversation about it without calling the candy “good” or “bad” – just what it is. Our favorite resources on how to talk about food with kids are Kids Eat In Color, and Feeding Littles. But remember – it’s how we talk to ourselves about food first that matters most – kids follow what we do.
Don’t Give The Treats Too Much Attention
In other words, don’t make it a big deal. Have you ever told your kids to NOT do something – then all they want to do is just that? And, just like with ourselves, if we glorify the candy, it will stand out more in our mind. If we say “We shouldn’t have the cookie”, we’ll likely think about it more and obsess (hello Reticular Activating System!). Typically, we are big fans of eating sweets after (or with) protein or fiber for better blood sugar regulation, yet with kids, we approach it a little differently when they are younger since they may not understand that concept. If we say something like, “You can only have a treat after your meal” – it can lead to the over glorification or a fixation of the treat, and them wanting it even more. What you can do is start creating a healthier relationship with food now by allowing treats with your meals here and there, not making a big deal of them. Make sense? If this is new to you, they may want to eat that treat a lot at first, but trust the process, and in time, you allow exposure and repetition, it will become less and less.
If you’ve decided you’re on the train of getting the more nutrient dense alternatives, here are our favorite brands:
- Unreal Dark Chocolate Coconut Mini Bars found at Costco
- Lesser Evil Popcorn Snack Packs at Sprouts or Target
- Justin’s Dark Chocolate PB cups found at Sprouts and Amazon
- That’s It Mini Fruit Bars found at Costco or many other stores
- Banana Bread Cookies found at Costco or Amazon
- Smart Sweets Lollypops or Gummies found at Sprouts, Target, Amazon or Thrive Market
I (Emily) personally like getting 2 options – something fruity, and something chocolatey. I’ll get those 2 options, and hand them out letting the kids have a choice (giving an option to kids helps A LOT). And, if there are any leftovers, I can eat them if I want to, or put them in my son’s lunch randomly the following weeks!
Pro tip: Get your kid a smaller trick or treat bag so it fills up faster and appears to have more in it. This way, if you do allow your kids to have treats post Halloween, it’s a smaller amount and they won’t have it as long.