Avoid unhealthy preservatives, artificial colors + flavors, MSG, HFCS + crazy amounts of sugar with these healthier Halloween candy options, new traditions and 30 fun non-food treats!
- What’s the big deal about Halloween candy?
- Healthier Halloween Traditions + Hacks
- Healthier Halloween Candy Swaps
- 30+ Non-Food Halloween Treats
It was so easy when the kids were babies and you could literally control their life experience as well as every little thing they ate—wasn’t it!?
Well gone are the days when we got dressed up, went to the next-door neighbors, got a dollar, and then came home. Now that my kids are 7 and 8, they are all about dressing up, staying up late, and GETTING CANDY.
Two years ago they discovered candy didn’t just mean Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks. That it meant colorful confectionaries like Skittles, Snickers, and Air Heads.
And last week my 7-year-old said, “Mama, Halloween is more fun for other kids, I mean, we get all the candy but then we can’t even eat it all!”
The boys are totally on to me.
What’s the big deal about Halloween candy?
I was talking to my friend Steph about this and she blew my mind when she said, “You know flu season pretty much starts the day after Halloween right—that’s not a coincidence!”
So I looked into it more and gosh, she could be on to something. This study from 1973, shows the number of immune cells responsible for phagocytosis (the process of attacking and consuming waste material in the body) were reduced after sugar was consumed.
In addition, processed candy is filled with unhealthy preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, partially hydrogenated oils, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, crazy amounts of sugar and more.
But no one is arguing that candy is healthy for you so let’s move on to some workarounds.
Balancing connection and values
I can talk to my kids and lead by example all I want but the fact that my kid got a parent-provided snack after his first baseball game last weekend and the words, “YES OREOS!” came out his mouth just cripples me. Or how about our new bus driver that gives the kids a bag of chips or a Little Debbie EVERYDAY when they get off the bus. (Insert ALL the eye-rolls here!)
The thing is, it’s impossible to fully escape society’s deep routed traditions, cultural norms, advertising and peer influence when it comes birthday parties, reward systems and holidays like Halloween.
Let’s face it, my kid is going to eat a double stuffed at some point in his life—and it’s not a matter of if but when.
So this is how I look at it. I’m running a marathon here, not a sprint and the goal is to have my boys remain healthy and make educated decisions when they are grown and fully independent.
And it all starts with education now, while they is young. Not deprivation but education. So we spend time naming foods and talking about why we eat them. Like, we eat carrots because they help us see good. We eat nut butters or a hard-boiled egg in the morning to keep our bellies fuller for longer. It’s not good to eat food and candy that has fake colors in it because it’s not good for your brain and too much sugar is not good for your body.
But it’s not always black and white. And it’s not always easy. I share more of my thoughts on valuing social connection over food values here.
Overall, I think it’s important to remember this is one night out of the year but to keep in mind, the real learning and the real value setting happens year-round.
Healthier Halloween Hacks and Traditions
Okay so that being said, what are some practical ways to do Halloween a little healthier?
First I’m going to share some fun, inspirational and healthier ways to celebrate and then we will get into some “healthier candy” and non-food treats.
1. Give Them All The Activated Charcoal
I don’t know how big of an impact this has on candy but dosing the boys with a huge glass of charcoal lemonade to absorb any potential poisons does speak to the Organic Girl in me.
2. The Switch Witch
We generally have the boys pick out a few pieces of candy and then we toss the rest. I know a lot of people like doing The Switch Witch which sounds like a fun idea too.
3. Donation programs
There are also several programs out there like donating candy to the troops or some dentists will do candy trades… but I have a hard time buying into these.
It’s the same way I felt when I finally dumped my Burberry Brit—I kinda wanted to give it to someone because I spent so much money on it but in the end, what good would that do? “Here, take this bag full of neurotoxic food dyes and chemical preservatives. Enjoy!” I just can’t.
4. Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project
The Teal Pumpkin Project is an easy and fun way to make Halloween more inclusive and accessible to children with allergies (not to mention more healthy!). We totally do this. I got a reusable teal pumpkin from Michael’s that I put out every year. It’s super easy and I love seeing the smiles on kid’s faces who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate.
5. Fuel up first
I love having the neighbors over (or flying family-solo) for a big meal before going out Trick-Or-Treating. Nothing like a big bowl of Bone Broth Bolognese to fill up those bellies and essentially making less room for candy.
6. Set up a book fair
Before we moved to Atlanta, we would head over to my SIL and BIL’s house and all the cousins would Trick-Or-Treat together.
Let me be the first to say, I looked forward to this so much for so many reasons. One of the coolest reasons is they have this one neighbor who turns her whole porch into a book fair! A former teacher, all year long she stocks up on kids books from garage sales, donations, hand-me-downs and the like with the sole intention of building up her Halloween stockpile.
But the best part!?
The kids LOVE GOING TO HER HOUSE! It is something they looked forward to—dare I say more than the candy houses?
Okay maybe that is a stretch but they definitely spend more time at her house browsing, picking up, putting down, changing their minds, asking for TWO. This lady has it going on.
So knowing that every house won’t be a free-for-all-book-extravaganza, let’s talk about some better candy options with real food ingredients. Also, scroll down for some non-food goodies the kids will totally get excited about.
Healthier Halloween Candy Swaps
All-natural, sugar-free lollipops—Real food pops (raspberry, grape, and cherry flavors) sweetened with tooth-friendly xylitol.
Enjoy Life is busting out a Halloween candy line this year that is free from (get this); wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, sesame! They are also non-GMO + certified gluten-free. HELLO! I tried their Nestle Crunch copy cat and it was a dead ringer!
Sweetened with stevia—no sugar. Non-GMO with no artificial colors, or artificial flavors gummy bears and fish. Vegan.
A cleanser marshmallow with a ton of fun flavors.
Made from only three ingredients! Dark chocolate, raw white honey and peppermint oil!
Allergy friendly, whole foods, certified organic and gluten-free!
I don’t know what the deal is. I know several people who don’t like these but I could easily eat a whole bag in one sitting. Certified organic and made with real food. Individually wrapped minis.
Or you could try these real food peanut butter cups….also individually wrapped.
20/case, made with real food and kids love them plus they are certified organic too.
Individually wrapped little bags. Certified organic.
USDA Organic, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Project Verified. Free from top allergens. No Egg, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree-nuts, and gluten. No artificial flavors or colors and they have sour options too.
These are a softer and cleaner alternative to Starburst. USDA Organic Certified; Kosher certified. Chewie Fruities contain 200% the daily requirement of Vitamin C. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, No corn syrup, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, casein-free, vegan. Also, I called and asked about the “natural flavors” which they said are a proprietary blend of fruits and veggie extracts and oils.
Non-Candy Halloween Treats
So I totally get that kids want candy but I love the idea of non-candy treats and honestly kids love them too. Plus the fun lasts longer!
- Fake Mustaches
- Bouncy Balls – 250 for $20!
- Mini flashlights – perfect for walking at night – .50 each!
- Mini foam gliders – individually wrapped – 72 for $13!
- Halloween Themed Punch Balloons – .50 each!
- Halloween stickers 500 for $10!
- Build your own pumpkin face sticker sheets
- Slap bracelets or you can spend more for cute Halloween themed ones
- Glow sticks – 100 for $12!
- Wikki Sticks – individually wrapped packs less than $1 each
- Jack O’ Lantern bubbles
- Matchbox cars
- Color your own bookmarks
- Googley eye rings
- Sticky lizards on a string – individually packaged
- Halloween themed pencils
- Halloween themed stamps
- Firecracker poppers, whippersnappers, bang pops, etc. My kids love these. Buy at your own risk.
- Classic Poppers
- Glitter Sticky Hands – 75 for $9!
- Coloring Books – 72 for $15!
- LED Foam Finger Rockets
- Slide whistles
- Books that you’ve grown out of
- Disc Shooters
- Bendable Zombies
- Halloween Windup Toys
- Mini Play-Doh
What would you add?