I love Halloween and almost any other chance to dress up. It’s silly fun – Dressing up is a chance to escape real life, don a character, and get outside yourself. Except you can’t get away from those darn allergies or food intolerances that don’t consider Halloween different than any other day.
It can be tough for children to handle repeated offers of traditional sugar-filled Halloween treats that don’t align with their dietary restrictions. How many times could you say ‘No Thank You’ with a smile on your face and manners intact when you are offered something you cannot have – but likely want! – without a more appropriate alternative in sight? I try to anticipate the Halloween party treat and send substitutes that support our choices and my children will be happy to enjoy instead of what is being offered.
Are holidays really only about the ‘treats’?
Our family uses healthy dietary choices as part of our treatment plan and – weird – it does not include candy. But my little ‘weeners DO go trick-or-treating – because is it really about the treats? Now, this is important so hear me before you rant about stealing the magic of childhood: I am not saying all parents should be scared of Halloween and candy. Go ahead, seize the opportunity to teach your kids about moderation when it comes to eating and sweets – Candy. Candy. Candy. Knock yourself out. – But wouldn’t it be also be OK to include a few alternatives to candy on Halloween? Not only families with restrictions would likely appreciate when healthy alternatives or non-candy items are included in holiday celebrations too.
Many families and classrooms are reducing the amount of sugar or treats that they give their kids…or would like to. Last year’s teacher requested that Halloween treats were not sent to school because she found the collective sugar crash interfered with learning in her class. Shocking, I know. Because the thought of 30-or-so kids eating candy instead of lunch seems like a solid plan to improve concentration and performance in the classroom.
A relatively new movement called the “Teal Pumpkin Project” supports these efforts to offer alternatives and raises awareness of food allergies, promoting the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. Show that you have candy-free alternatives available for trick-or-treaters by painting a pumpkin teal to place in front of your home and displaying this free printable sign available to download from FARE. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #tealpumpkinproject on social media to support this great initiative.
What to offer instead of candy?
There are so many great ideas for candy alternatives. Think about what you would put in a party loot bag – kids love that junk! Many items can easily be found at your local dollar store or can be created by separating a set/package. I really like the idea of handing out glow sticks, finger lights, whistles, or noise makers as they will likely be put to use immediately, entertaining the kids and adding the obvious safety benefit while they shriek around the neighbourhood.
My very favourite Halloween treat to share is fitness coupons. Although you may not have automatically linked physical activities to this ghoulish holiday, it’s a another great idea, right? Although haters will just chalk this up to one more attack in the war on freedom cloaked as Halloween, I applaud this healthy choice and have ordered numerous coupon books every year for our family to hand out! My children and their friends think it is great fun and value can’t be beat! (Although I readily admit we tend to forget about them and then find ourselves at the Rec centre a lot right before they expire!)
Check out your local community for programs similar to these:
Summerside, P.E.I.’s second largest city, encourages Halloween enthusiasts to hand out recreation passes alongside candy to trick-or-treaters. The city reduces the price of 10 recreation passes to $10, from the regular price of $30, for the Halloween season. The passes include skating, bowling, and swimming activities.
In a similar initiative, City of Calgary swim pass coupon booklet for $5.00 includes one swim coupon for a City leisure centre, in addition to nine coupons to use at any of the City aquatic & fitness centres.
These ideas will make your minions cry “Sa-weeeeet!” instead of gobbling it.
Share your ideas for non-candy treats or photos of how you are celebrating the Teal Pumpkin Project™ in your communities on the MADD WORLD Facebook page.
Share this post filled with creative Non-Candy alternatives within your communities – some parents may not even consider children with food restrictions and it benefits all our little ghouls and goblins to consume less crap so why not?
“The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).”