Diet and Nutrition

8 Halloween Tips for Trick-or-Treat Night

March 12, 2018   /
Nutrition411 Staff
Sheryl Lozicki, RD, MBA

By the time parents arrive home from work on Trick or Treat night, it seems like the witching hour is in full swing. The kids are so excited for the evening’s events that they have magically changed into their costumes and are eagerly anticipating the night’s events, not caring about any plans you have made for dinner.

Your mind is quickly assaulted by the following questions:

  • “Should I make my children eat dinner or is it not worth the battle?”
  • “How many houses equate to an adequate candy supply?”
  • “What about the increase in childhood obesity?”

Halloween is the first of the sugar-focused holidays, which last until Valentine’s Day. You certainly do not need all this candy around the house. Can you throw half of it out when your children are not looking? Do your dentist’s kids go trick or treating?


It is important to remember that one night of trick-or-treating does not make an overweight child or a bad parent. Here are a few simple suggestions to help you get through Halloween night and the other 364 days that follow.


1. Have a plan to start the night

A group of hungry, dehydrated, excited goblins is a frightening picture for any parent! Make a plan for dinner and trick-or-treat start time, and ask for your children’s input. Agree on a nutritious dinner – perhaps with a Halloween theme, and  plan it ahead of time with your children’s help. Let them know that you will eat early on Halloween night so that they will have all the energy needed for a successful Trick-or-Treat night.


Make sure they drink enough fluid. Children can get overheated in Halloween costumes, especially when it is combined with running from house to house throughout your neighborhood.


2. Set limits in advance

Ask your children to help you decide on the route you will take, how many doors you will knock on, and what hour they will turn back into “pumpkins.” Having an end goal will help you avoid the “just one more” or “but we have not gone to…” meltdown that persists all the way home.


3. Agree on a candy consumption limit

Agree on how much candy your children can eat on Trick or Treat night and each day thereafter. You may want to make a similar confidential agreement with yourself. Note: “unlimited access” or “until the chocolate is gone” is not a good plan.


4. Provide healthy snacks

Keep healthy between-meal snacks in view and accessible. A bowl full of juicy red apples, bananas, or seasonal fruit is a better centerpiece than Skittles®, M&M’s®, and Tootsie Rolls®. Keep the candy out of sight. Assign a kids’ shelf in your refrigerator and fill it with low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese cut in interesting shapes, and fresh-cut vegetables.


5. Teach and model moderation

Do not give candy more status than it deserves. In some instances, the more something is forbidden or overly restricted, the more desirable it becomes. Teach and model moderation. All foods can fit, if we are reasonable about the amount and frequency.


6. Do not attach emotions to candy

Try not to use candy to reward, bribe, punish, or convey love. By attaching emotions to certain foods, you may inadvertently set the stage for disordered eating in the future, including undereating, anorexia, overeating, and obesity.


7. Begin some new family rituals

Try to take the focus of the holiday away from the candy. Make it a time to begin new family rituals, such as stuffing a scarecrow full of leaves for the front porch. Carve pumpkins and roast the seeds. Hold an annual scavenger hunt for fall items, such as acorns, pinecones, woolly caterpillars, animal tracks, and colorful leaves. Begin a new photo album that holds pictures of Halloween celebrations, past and present. After trick-or-treating, collect the extra candy and box it up to donate to military troops or participate in a Buyback program through a dentist’s office or local business.


8. Keep it safe

Above all, have a safe and fun Halloween. Your children are only small for a short while!


References and recommended readings

Candy math. NC Learning website. Accessed September 5, 2017.


Healthy Halloween treats. Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service website. Accessed September 5, 2017.



Contributed by Sheryl Lozicki, RD, MBA

Reviewed and updated by staff September 18, 2017