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The scariest thing about Halloween isn’t just the costumes or the walking around in the dark. For many families it marks the beginning of unhealthy holiday eating for everyone involved (don’t pretend you haven’t  piliaged your kids’ candy stashes). But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, you can’t avoid what other people will provide along the way, but there are plenty of spooky smart tricks you can do to ensure a healthier, happier, Halloween.

Make sure the kids eat before going out trick-or-treating

Make a special dinner. Pumpkin soup out of a pumpkin?Harry Potter themed butterbeer (maybe even go sugar-free), or peeled grape eyeballs? Be sure to include fiber, protein, and healthy fats to keep the kids satisfied. Avoiding dinner means your kids will be hungry, and hungry kids are more likely to chow down on candy during the trick-or-treat trek. Make it an event by inviting a few neighborhood kids, too, and you’ll create a tradition of tasty, festive meals to go along with the treats.

Skip the car

Kids have a hard time knowing their limitations when it comes to candy. And as parents, it’s our job to help them make the right decisions. So chauffeuring from neighborhood to neighborhood probably isn’t the best bet, not just in terms of candy haul but also in terms of exercise. Make a walk out of the trick-or-treat event. Carry some good flashlights, know your route ahead of time, and get steps in for the whole family. You’ll all burn calories and have fun together.

Consider making a deal

While a pillowcase fit to bursting with candy might be your kids’ idea of heaven, it’ll wreak havoc on their teeth and tummies. Especially candies that are mostly sugar and hard to chew! Have your kids make a list of their favorite candies, and keep a few of what they like best – maybe enough for one a day until Thanksgiving. If they like chocolate, they’re in luck, as it generally causes less tooth decay than hard sugar candies.

Once the kids have selected their favorite candies, take the remainder and offer 5 cents per surrendered candy. It helps get the stash down considerably, but also helps teach your kids about saving up for things they actually want. Just be sure you don’t eat the whole stash that’s left over. Bring it to the office, perhaps. There’s also the Halloween Candy Buyback project that allows kids to return their candy to their dentists for cash and prizes!

Be a spooky example

While offering fresh fruits and vegetables will never put you high on the Halloween route, who says you have to give out candy? A quick trip to the dollar store and you can find plenty of scary and spooky items, like toy spiders and worms, little skull figures, and even novelty rings. You won’t have to worry about adding to the candy haul, and you’ll be totally memorable.

Find lower sugar, healthier alternatives

While healthy options trail mix and others can contain allergens, you can still find a variety of candy companies that focus on providing treats with less sugar and no artificial food coloring. They can be a little more expensive, but sometimes you can even find them at places like Marshall’s or Ross with a pretty significant discount. To even my picky kids, it’s hard to tell the difference. And it’s nice to know that they aren’t full of high fructose corn syrup or other questionable ingredients.

Halloween isn’t fun just because of the candy. Chances are, your kids aren’t going to remember the candy they ate – but they will remember good food, creepy walks, and memorable adventures.

About Natania Barron

Natania Barron is a social media specialist at BCBSNC, a newbie runner, a healthy food nut, and a mother of two. She's passionate about connecting with consumers through social media and helping to deliver a personal, meaningful experience online.