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5 Nutritionist Tips for Balancing Halloween Sweets

Sharon Palmer

As Halloween approaches, parents’ concerns mount over how to balance that huge trick or treat bag stuffed with candy. I understand all about this, as I am a mother, and you can see my son Nicholas’ Halloween candy stash in the photo below (although he’s now 21 years old!). You don’t want to deprive your children of all of their Halloween sweet treats, but you also don’t want to set them up for poor nutrition, grumpy mood swings, and lack of academic performance if they’re over-doing on sugar. So, I sat down with some of my favorite registered dietitian nutritionists to ask for their top tips for dealing with Halloween candy overload, as well as managing Halloween trick or treating night. Read on for their best advice for balancing Halloween sweets.

My son Nicholas as a child, enjoying his Halloween candy stash.


5 Nutritionist Tips for Balancing Halloween Sweets


Try to eat a healthy holiday breakfast, such as Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats.

1. Practice Moderation. “I think a great tip is to remind families that Halloween is a fun filled time that should be enjoyed in moderation. I am a big proponent of the Teal Pumpkin Project. Every year I take pride in being the neighbor that passes out the nonfood item that ends up being the biggest hit! This year: glow in the dark straws! I think it’s important to remember even nonfood items are perfect gifts that all kids can enjoy regardless of their dietary needs and it breaks up the candy too for mom and dad!” says Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT of Shaw’s Simple Swaps.

The witch’s candy bowl is filled with candy that’s not so popular around our house.
The witch’s candy bowl is filled with candy that’s not so popular around our house.

2. Purchase Least Favorite Candy.  “My best tip is, if you are going to hand out candy to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters then purchase them as close to Halloween as possible (so they don’t stare you in the face for a few days or weeks) and to purchase candy or chocolate that you and your kids don’t like. I dislike taffy and both my children and I won’t go near them–those are the treats that I will try to purchase. That way I automatically remove any junk food temptations from the house,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD.

3. Ration It and Donate It. “Have your child sort through her treats, choose a few to eat on Halloween and one or two for each day for the next month. Then donate the rest, or bring to your office so that you get it out of the house!” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN of   Amy Gorin Nutrition.

This Green Pea Hummus is a great healthy food choice before a Halloween party.

4.    Focus on Healthy Foods First.  “Have a bowl of grapes, baby carrots, or cherry tomatoes to munch on during the trick-or-treat event (especially if you are the one passing out the candy). And before going out trick-or-treating, fill up on a healthy, delicious snack with protein and carbs. Your temptation for sweets will be reduced if you already have a full belly. A nice snack includes hummus with carrots, string cheese with fruit, trail mix,” says Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN of    Family. Food. Fiesta.

The families in my neighborhood usually get together for pre trick-or-treat appetizers, and I love to serve hummus w/ crackers and veggies, for a healthy, plant protein packed snack. Yes, my kids will be eating candy later, but at least I know they started the night out with a little nourishment in their bellies,” says EA Stewart, RDN at   Spicy RD Nutrition. 

“Halloween can be a challenging time for parents to feed children healthfully.  As a mother and a dietitian, I focus on what healthy foods I can make enjoyable for the night, rather than what I should be saying no to.  Before sending my kids out trick-or-treating, I fill them up with protein packed, fiber-rich fun foods. Another important Halloween party tip is serving plenty of water, kids need to leave for the night well hydrated.  Carrying along a water bottle is a good idea too.  Leave the sweet treats to the collections of goodies they’ll receive.  Let your kids know they can enjoy a few of their favorite candies when they arrive home,” says Kathy Siegel, MS, RDN, CDN of    Triad to Wellness.

5.   Maintain Perspective.  “Overeating one day won¹t make or break your long-term health. If you over-indulge in the Halloween candy, remind yourself that it¹s okay to eat extra added sugar or sweets once and awhile. Simply return to your usual eating habits the next day by starting with a healthy, balanced breakfast.  Plan on following your usual eating pattern the next day.  Anticipation of food restriction the next day sets you up for over-eating that day or night (“After all, if I¹m never going to let myself eat this again, I might as well eat as much as I can now.”) Remind yourself that restrictive diets don¹t work in the long run,” says McKenzie Hall, RDN.

For healthier plant-based treats, check out some of my favorites:

Pumpkin Spice Orange Smoothie
Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites
Cowboy Cookies

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