Halloween is just around the corner, which means an endless supply of sugary treats from trick or treating. Kids get a ton of candy from school parties, friends, neighbors, or relatives during Halloween. Sometimes the candy is so much it can last up to thanksgiving or Christmas time! However, the sugar crash is detrimental to you and your child’s teeth and overall health. More people are looking for creative alternatives to sugar to keep their kids from unhealthy sugary treats. Additionally, with the rising number of food allergies, it would be best to avoid traditional candy treats. Your child can develop cavities nearly overnight, and they would have to undergo expensive, painful dental restoration procedures, something that can be easily avoided.
Despite this, it is still important for those passing out treats and your kids to have fun and enjoy the festivities. You can still find a middle ground and enjoy Halloween in plenty of healthier and fun ways without being the Halloween Grinch. Here are non-sugary treats that your kids can enjoy for Halloween.
1. Go for Nonsticky Fruits
You can give your kids healthier alternatives to trick or treating by putting together a fun bag of yummy fruits. But this does not mean you give them dried fruit because it contains high sugar. Consuming large amounts of dry fruits could lead to weight gain, and the fruit can stick between teeth and erode the enamel. Instead of giving your kids sticky fruits, you can swap them with healthier fruits like:
You can get creative with the fruits and ask your kids to help you make spooky fruits like bananas, strawberry ghosts, frightful fruit kebabs, or pumpkin oranges. Your kids will have fun helping you be creative with the fruit monsters while keeping your mind at ease, knowing they won’t indulge in the typical cavity-filled Halloween candies.
2. Low Sugar Chocolates and Candies
There are various zero-sugar chocolate companies that sweeten their chocolate bars with natural sweeteners that taste great and are healthier for the teeth. You can also try healthy alternatives to candy treats like Halloween pretzels, peanut butter cups, pudding cups, Goldfish, or other types of sugar-free snacks. You can find a variety of nonsugary treats in your local grocery store or online.
3. Bubbles for Trick or Treaters
Kids love blowing bubbles, and you can incorporate them in goody bags or as one-piece giveaways for the little ones as they come to trick or treat. They are a great way to keep the kids relaxed and distracted from the candy. Bubbles are inexpensive, and you can find various bubble bottles with different Halloween-themed designs like ghouls, ghosts, monsters, vampires, or mummies. Additionally, you can avoid some candies that cause choking hazards, like lollipops, tootsie rolls, and skittles.
You can get an assortment of Halloween stickers as early as September and fill them up in your candy bowls. There is a variety to choose from, like glow-in-the-dark, scary, or goofy ones. You can buy a selection of them in bulk, and the little ones can select the ones that appeal to them. If you cannot find Halloween stickers, you can go with popular cartoon-themed characters that kids love these days.
5. Chilled Water Bottles
Kids get dehydrated easily from running around to collect their stash of candy. Chewing on sugary treats can make your kids pretty thirsty, and what better way to quench their thirst than with a cool bottle of water. Additionally, water helps to flush out or buffer the acid attack in the teeth brought about by eating candy. It may seem odd to hand out mini water bottles for treats, but parents and kids will highly appreciate them. Keep the mini water bottles in an ice cooler to keep them chilled and refreshing before passing them around. You can also quench their thirst with healthy juices to keep them re-energized.
Tips on Avoiding Sugar During Halloween
Kids learn through observation. If you consume candy in moderation or restrict yourself from overindulging, your kids will do the same. If you practice good habits and show your kids that candy is not something they should value, they will pick up on it and become less interested. You can allow them to eat some candy on Halloween but afterward, let them know the remaining candy can only be eaten at snack time and let them stick to the rules.
Keep your kids full by feeding them their favorite meal to keep them satisfied before going trick or treating. After eating, there is usually more saliva in the mouth, which will come in handy to protect their teeth from an acid attack that occurs after eating candy.
According to studies, kids denied candy completely tend to overindulge when they come across candy more than those who eat some candy regularly. Limit the amount of candy they can eat, and you can occasionally allow them to choose the type they like.
After binging on candy, ask your kids to drink lots of water right away and wait 30 minutes to an hour before brushing. This is because the acid in the sugary treats can temporarily weaken your child’s enamel. Therefore, brushing immediately after eating candy puts their teeth at irreparable enamel damage (chipping or breaking).
Here are some candies you should stay away from if you are not planning on avoiding candy altogether during Halloween:
Hard candy: This can break your tooth or harm your jaws when you try to bite on it. Additionally, it is highly concentrated in sugar, and as you suck on it, your teeth are constantly coated with sugar, exposing them to more damage. This greatly increases your child’s risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Gummy worms: They are highly acidic and can wear out the enamel leading to tooth sensitivity and other dental issues.
Sticky or chewy candy: These sticks or wedges between teeth increase the risk of cavities.
The best way to stay away from candy is to keep it away from your home. Keep healthier options at home, educate your kids on the importance of avoiding candy, and remind them to continue flossing and brushing daily.
For more information please contact Dr. Danial Garcia and Dr. Margarita Martinez.