When trying to follow a Paleo lifestyle, Halloween can be much more frightening than the glowing skeletons, howling ghosts, gremlins, goblins and silly monsters. Halloween is scary because of the plethora of high fructose corn syrup and unidentifiable ingredients laden in candy.
Sadly, the average American child eats too much sugar the other 364 days of the year as well, with the average young child consuming up to 21 teaspoons of added, refined sugars daily. Adults fare even worse with average North American adult consuming up to three pounds of sugar per week. Unfortunately, Halloween is not the only day folks are over-consuming refined and added sugars.
Halloween can be a tough time for children whose parents are doing their best to nourish them with Paleo principles. Trick-or-treating has evolved into more of a right than an option for children. Starting from this premise allows parents to guide them towards smarter choices. If the are denied the excitement, they will end up smuggling candy filled pillowcases up to the privacy of their own bedrooms and eating it late into the night until it is gone.
There are ways to make Halloween fun and relatively Paleo friendly which will help your child feel less excluded during the trick-or-treat season.
Focus On the FUN.
Halloween is also about the dressing up for us, and creativity and time go in to preparing for the adventure. Focusing on this over simply the candy element can keep your child’s expectations positive and fun. Involve them in choosing and possibly making their own costumes and your house decorations emphasizing the fun element of the holiday
You could also make giving out the candy or treats more fun than trick-or-treating? You could be the house on your street with the really creepy decorations, strange music and smoking cauldrons. You could watch scary movies or Halloween specials between doorbell rings. Dressed up in their costumes children often love handing out treats almost as much as getting them. Almost
Create New Traditions
Host an allergy-friendly party at your house on Halloween in lieu of trick-or-treating. You can make or buy Paleo friendly eats and treats and incorporate activities like pumpkin carving into your party. Even making snacks like roasted pumpkin seeds can be incorporated.
Visit a haunted house or take a “spooky hike” every Halloween, searching for as many different types of bugs that you can find. Award prizes for finding the most species of spooky bugs and to the finder of the creepiest critter uncovered!
Involve community service by making Halloween an opportunity to give back in some way to your community. Make a tradition of bringing your own home-made treats to those who cannot celebrate themselves (think nursing homes and the children’s hospital). This also provides a great opportunity to show off your child dressed up in their costumes where they will be much appreciated.
The key here is simply having a tradition to uphold, that is not necessarily reliant on candy and treats. Pick something and stick with it each year since the most important part of tradition is consistency.
Treats Over Sweets
Halloween does not NEED to be about candy and it is quite possible to celebrate the season without sugar.
Amazon has lots of options for small toys. You can also visit your local party city, dollar stores and department stores. There are a lot of options to choose from.
You can also give out non-candy things! These are often appreciated for a little longer and can be enjoyed een after the holiday rituals. Some treats that children will still enjoy might be:
- Glow Sticks
- Slap bracelets
- Stickers and stamps
- Magic growing water creatures (like sea monkeys or dinosaur eggs)
- Halloween themed finger puppets
Of course, there are also healthier options available if you are wanting to hand out food treats and you could make your own but this tends to work best when you have discussed this previously with other parents and you have an agreement with them.
Other possibilities include things that could be considered “less bad” treats include bought sweets such as organic lollipops, organic fruit snacks and the like. These get pricey and are still candy, but are certainly better options than most of the commercially available Halloween fare!
Put A Twist On It
Make an agreement with your children before they embark on their Halloween adventures that they can go trick-or-treating if they give you their candy afterwards. There are two great ways to encourage them to participate in your plan:
This works especially well with younger children. Have your child hand over their trick-or-treat candy at the end of the night and in the morning, they will discover that the Switch Witch has replaced the candy with an fantastic gift instead!
Caveat: Be sure to let them know that the Switch Witch (much like Santa Claus) ‘knows’ when they may have hidden a piece of candy from the stash.
This is the better option for older children.
- Host a contest with your trick-or-treaters and weigh their candy at the night’s end. This will discourage snacking on candy throughout the night, (as will sending them out after a nutrient dense Paleo friendly meal). Employ the classic “buy back” scenario and pay them per piece of candy, or per pound of candy, with bonuses going to the winner.
- Let your kids buy privileges with their candy. Additional iPad/computer/TV/device time, extended bed times, extended curfew (if that is a possibility in your household) can each cost a certain number of pieces and/or types of candy.
- If there a big ticket item that your child has been longing for you might let them trade in their whole candy haul for it.
- Negotiate a certain amount that they get to eat on Halloween night and then ditch the rest.
Within a couple of holidays your children will become accustomed to the routine and rather than cry they will laugh all the way to their newly attained non-food ‘prizes’ and possibly even the trash can. Eventually they will come to understand that these artificial foods and processed high sugar candies are no better than the junk you all, as a Paleo family, avoid every day. This is ultimately a great lesson to be learned.
Finally, do your best to make real food fun. Here are a few of our favorite Paleo friendly snacks and treats to make and share with your children