Keeping Halloween Healthy for Trick-Or-Treaters

Claudia Cater, photos by Randy Lee |

Halloween is right around the corner. Sixty-eight percent of Americans will celebrate Halloween. In 2015, 41 million children (ages 5-14) went trick-or-treating. Are you a parent who will take your Anna, Elsa, Ninjago Warrior, Spider-Man, or Pokémon Charizard out trick-or-treating this Halloween?

Here are some suggestions for making Halloween a fun event for everyone in the family:

• Parents and children should have a plan about where they are going to trick or treat and how much candy the children may consume. Clemson University Cooperative Extension recommends trick-or-treating in a two- to three-block radius from home. That way the treats most likely will come from neighbors and friends, and the amount of treats will be moderate.

• Before heading out the door to trick-or-treat, eat a healthy meal. This may help prevent your child from becoming “hangry” (hunger/angry) or diving into the treat bag for too many snacks. (This sounds like common sense, but the holiday is very exciting for little ones.)

• Have your child carry an appropriate-sized trick-or-treat bag.

• Have children wait until they get home to eat their treats. Parents should look over candy to make sure it is safe. Keep only items that are wrapped commercially.

• Avoid giving your child hard candies that can stick to teeth and cause tooth decay. Hard candies can also be a choking hazard for young children.

• Teach your child that all foods should be eaten in moderation. A few pieces of Halloween candy each day is OK. Nutritionists estimate that almost 7,000 calories in Halloween candy will be consumed on Halloween night by some trick or treaters.

• If you do buy Halloween candy to give out, purchase snack-sized treats instead of full-sized candy bars.


Do you believe that the average American consumer 3.4 pounds of candy over Halloween? In 2015, 598 million pounds or $1.9 billion dollars of candy were sold at Halloween. Nearly 90 million pounds of the candy sold during Halloween week is chocolate. With these figures in mind, consider giving the kids in your neighborhood healthy treats other than candy:

• Applesauce or fruit cups
• Cheese and cracker packages
• Granola bars
• Mini 100 percent juice boxes
• Low-fat pudding cups
• 100 calorie packs of various products
• Packages of instant cocoa mix
• Single-serve microwave popcorn
• Small bottles of water
• Small boxes of raisins
• Sugar–free gum
• Whole-wheat cheddar flavored crackers


One in every 13 children has a serious food allergy. Handing out non-food treats helps keep the holiday safer for all kids. The Food Allergy and Education (FARE) created the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2014. The Teal Pumpkin raises awareness of food allergies. Participants who display a teal pumpkin outside their houses provide safe non-food treats for trick-or-treaters. For more information on the Teal Pumpkin Project, go to

Here are some ideas for non-edible Halloween hand-outs:

• Bouncy balls
• Crayons
• Glow sticks
• Halloween sticker, pencils, and erasers
• Temporary tattoos
• Toothbrushes


The Regis Court Dental Associates participates in the National Halloween Buy Back Program and will pay children $1 per pound for Halloween candy. Children can make cards at the dental office to send to U.S. troops overseas. The candy and cards are shipped to Operation Gratitude, which uses them to create holiday care packages for troops. For more information, call Regis Court Dental Associates at (715) 834-2032, or check with your dentist to see if they participate in the National Halloween Buy Back Program.