Can Halloween Be Healthier and Still Have Fun?

Written by admin, October 30, 2013

October 30, 2013 –  Is it Possible to Make Halloween Healthier and Still Have Fun? Yes! And Make it Safe Too!

The Peterborough Public Health is offering the following tips and advice to parents and caregivers to make Halloween healthier, safer, and especially more fun for our children.

“Celebrating Halloween in a healthier way isn’t about giving up all the treats. It’s about bringing them into balance, especially since kids often have multiple celebrations: at school, at friends’ houses, at after care, and in the community,” said Erica Diamond, Registered Dietitian and Public Health Nutritionist. “There’s more to Halloween than candy. There’s dressing up, having fun with friends, playing games, and doing crafts. With so many celebrations throughout the year, it’s important to enjoy each one without going overboard.”

For trick-or-treaters, offer healthier options like sugar-free gum, 100% fruit juice boxes, 100% fruit leathers, or peanut-free granola bars.  Also, make sure children eat a healthy meal before they go trick-or-treating so that candy is a dessert, not supper. Reminding kids to stay on top of toothbrushing and flossing is also important this time of year.

If you’re throwing a Halloween party for kids, try serving no more than one sugary/higher-fat item, and provide mostly healthier snacks like apple cider, dried apricots, low-fat popcorn, carrots and dip or roasted pumpkin seeds.  Instead of a sit down and eat party, keep it moving with great dance music, costume parades and other games like pin the nose on the witch. Emphasize the creative side of Halloween instead of the candy by telling ghost stories, making slime, or getting the kids to act out short plays.

Mrs. Diamond noted that it is most important to work with children on healthy eating throughout the year. “Encourage healthy eating but don’t battle over it. Instead, try to work something out, like allowing your children to eat what they want on Halloween night and then save 5 treats to eat over the next 5 days. Dispose of or put the rest out of sight,” she suggests.

For safety, encourage kids to travel in groups and use a white bag or pillow case and use reflective tape.  Always carry a flashlight, and use sidewalks wherever possible.  If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road facing traffic.  Don’t criss-cross back and forth across the street.

Costumes should fit properly to prevent trips and falls.  Avoid oversized shoes, high heels, long dresses or capes.  Select costumes with bright colors to increase your child’s visibility.  Discourage the use of masks on your children.  Masks make it hard for children to see what’s around them, including cars.  Make-up is a better alternative.

If you need to drive on Halloween night, drive slowly in residential areas where children are more likely to be trick or treating. Watch out for children. Children are excited; they may dart out in traffic.  Remember that costumes can limit a child’s vision and they may not be able to see your vehicle. Reduce your distractions and stay alert. Remember to enter and exit driveways slowly and carefully.  Proceed with caution.




For further information, please contact:


Erica Diamond, RD                                                                           Paula Mattie, Public Health Nurse

Public Health Nutritionist                                                              Injury Prevention Program

(705) 743-1000, ext. 361                                                                (705) 743-1000, ext. 241