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One of the most common questions I’m asked in my practice this time of year is “what do YOU do for Halloween?”.

Truthfully, there isn’t one set of rules that I prescribe to. When my daughters were younger they wanted to have the candy and so I let them with a small caveat: just that one day. On November 1st, we get rid of it.

Getting rid of it meant sending the sacks of candy to my husband’s office where it was happily enjoyed (hopefully, not by my husband!).

As the girls get older, they’ve become much more aware of what’s lurking inside their sacks of candy: toxic chemicals, artificial colors and flavors, bad fats and GMO sugar or corn syrup.  They want yummy and healthy goodies.

Here are my favorite tricks to make Halloween a healthier treat:

First:
If there’s no way your kids are giving up their Halloween candy, read this Halloween blog about what you can do.

Second: Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!
I purchase healthier candies online and at local markets. Both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s sell healthier candies made with fruit and not sugar. You can also buy chocolate bars (preferably dark) or even Halloween bats, witches and other spooky treats.  

Baking is great if it’s something you enjoy. There are plenty of healthier Halloween recipes on Pinterest. Or, try my recipes for Apple Monsters and Boo-Na-Nas featured in this month’s edition of Pumpkinhead’s Early Childhood Magazine, available for free on iTunes and Apple Newsstand.

Third: Treat or Teachable Moment?
When my daughters get home on Halloween night, the first thing they do is sort their candy. All of the Milky Ways in a pile; all of the hard candy together; anything healthy gets separated.  

This is a great time to teach your kids to read the candy labels. Tell them which ingredients are bad. And, explain the problem with eating those ingredients.

Fourth: The Halloween Trade
Then, offer irresistible alternatives that aren’t full of chemicals and junk.  

Ultimately what’s best is up to you and your family. What’s worked well for us is to trade the sack of junk for a gift basket. Sometimes, the gift basket is full of healthy candy and homemade treats. Other years, there’s less candy and a small toy instead (last year was Beanie Boo Bats).

Fifth:
Get strategic about where your extra candy goes. If you don’t want to trash the candy overload, how about donating it? Operation Gratitude sends donated sweet treats to US Troops throughout the world. Or, google local charities to see if there’s local interest.  

Simple Action Step:
Halloween is about more than candy! Emphasize all of the other great traditions: the costumes, pumpkins, decorations, and festivities (we love ghosting!).  Upgrade your celebration with healthier options and enjoy a Halloween treat or two or even three!  

Have a safe and healthy Halloween!