Next to Christmas and Easter, Halloween is possibly a low sugar parent’s most dreaded time of year for the sugar content it inevitably carries with it! It can be daunting, and feel overwhelming to try and figure out how to cope with a holiday centred around candy when you are trying to keep your family on a low sugar diet.
Whether you celebrate it as a family, your kids celebrate it with others, or you are more a “Night of Light” family like ours, there is bound to be an abundance of sugar over the day, and probably in the weeks either side of it, too! It can be worrying and bring up lots of questions: Should we just write it off and call it one day (or a couple of weeks) of sugar highs? Should we ban sugar completely and desperately try to cling to control of our children’s diet with all of the temptations surrounding them? Honestly, I think there is a more middle-ground, easier way.
So I have gathered a few handy hints I’ve learned over the last couple of years from personal experience as well as from the experience of others, that I think will be of huge benefit to you all. You can find more suggestions for Halloween and generally for surviving parties and celebrations as a low sugar family in my Party Survival e-course here.
But here are my top 5 tips for surviving the Halloween season with young children as a low sugar family:
- Prepare and plan. Planning for Halloween way ahead of the actual event is essential. Without planning, it is that much harder to avoid reaching for last-minute sugar-laden treats ready-prepared in the supermarkets, or having alternatives on hand when your kids come home laden with sugary goodies. A few weeks before the day, make a list of things you want to prepare: low sugar alternative treats, savoury foods, non-food games and goodies, decorations and other preparations you need to do.
- Take advantage of the good parts. With Halloween food, often the decoration is actually more important than what the food itself is. So come up with healthy alternatives that look just as convincing without being full of sugar. Use food items like cacao nibs, 85-90% dark chocolate chips, cut up fruit, cream cheese, pumpkin puree, beetroot, and chopped vegetables to decorate your foods. I will be posting a round-up of suggestions in the next week, so keep an eye on the blog for more detailed suggestions for these!
- If you are hosting – focus on the savoury! If you have kids coming to yours for a Halloween or Night of Light party, spend a little time planning and preparing some low sugar sweet treats, but spend most of your time on the savoury items. Plan for mini burgers with sugar free ketchup or BBQ sauce, make sausage rolls and healthy dips with rainbow chopped vegetables. Bring this stuff out first, let the kids fill up on it, and only then bring out the low sugar sweet treats at the end.
- If you are attending – bring something! Bring a savoury plate and/or a low sugar sweet treat so you know there is at least one thing at the party you and your kids can munch on without guilt!
- Don’t stress – it’s just a day! At the end of the day, Halloween is one day of the year. Now, it’s true that between birthdays, social events, holidays and celebrations, those “one days” add up and it is worth being cautious, but don’t panic if your child has a sugar overload after all. If they eat healthily most of the time, this is not going to ruin the good work and effort you have put into teaching them about healthy foods. In fact, many kids who eat little or no sugar most of the time have said that they struggle with a sugar overload, as they feel the effects of it more keenly! The tummy pains, headaches and crashes can be a valuable lesson in and of themselves. So don’t stress about it, but perhaps ensure that it is just one day, rather than a week. Or two. Or more…
I hope these tips are helpful to you and your family this Halloween. Keep an eye out for a Halloween recipe round-up coming to the blog soon, and of course, you can always check out the sale that is on on my Party Survival e-course right now if you want more tips, tricks and exclusive recipes!