Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Rehealthifying Hallowe’en

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This is a slightly edited repost of a blog post from last year.

I’m sure that all of you who are giving out Hallowe’en treats to trick-or-treaters this year have already made your purchases but perhaps this will be helpful for next year.

There’s been a number of articles about handing out healthier or non-food treats on Hallowe’en. I remember one year my mum purchased multi-packs of sugar-free gum every time she went grocery shopping and we gave those out. We were the coolest house on the block. I think being creative and giving out healthier treats is a great idea, however, I’m not down with some of the suggestions.

Naturally, I’m disappointed with the You Docs (i.e. Oz and Roizen). Their suggestions: “Make up goodie bags that contain some combination of pre-packaged treats: organic gummy bears; dried fruits and pretzels dipped in dark chocolate; amazing dark-chocolate edamame; and non-food treats like animal-shaped erasers or rub-on temporary tattoos.” While I like the non-food suggestions (much better than the lame HB pencils given out by one of my neighbours when I was growing up) I don’t think the food ones are all that great. Organic gummy bears are still sugary treats and aren’t going to be nutritionally superior to regular gummy bears. I’m also not keen on the dried fruit idea. Sure, dried fruit is more nutritious than candy but it’s still terrible from an oral health perspective and because it’s dried, the sugar and calories are highly concentrated. And chocolate covered edamame? I’m sure that’s readily available in affordable treat-sized baggies for kids.

Then there’s the article on Yahoo featuring the 10 Worst Halloween Candies as determined by dentists and nutritionists. Honestly, I’m not sure how these candies are worse than any of the others out there. As an aside, since when is there candy corn M&Ms?? The arguments about the mini chocolate bars could be made about nearly every brand, not just those featured. It’s nice of Yahoo to provide alternative suggestions but they’re really not much better than the original treats (e.g. an “airier” chocolate bar or organic peanut butter cups). Hello, organic does not equal healthy!

My suggestion: let kids enjoy Hallowe’en but take responsibility. If you’re a parent, ensure that treats are rationed so that Hallowe’en doesn’t turn into a sugary night of gluttony and make sure that your kids practice good oral hygiene. If you’re giving out treats consider giving out soemthing inedible but fun like the suggestions above, or something that might spur activity or creativity like art supplies, stickers, playing cards, or bouncy balls. You could also give out free-passes to a local swimming pool or skating rink.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people see food and nutrition from a different perspective and understand that nutrition and health are not necessarily a result of personal choice.

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