By Lisa Shrewsberry
We’re facing trick-or-treat season here in one of the most overweight states in America, a country battered and deep-fried in a serious epidemic. There’s a greater than 30 percent obesity rate for the West Virginia population. Misery loves company from a national perspective when it comes to oversized youth — holding at 15 percent in overweight high school students for the Mountain State, among a combined national average of 13 percent (for students with a BMI greater than or equal to the 95th percentile, according to 2011 Centers for Disease Control data).
All of which beg the question: Is there any reason we should still give out candy for Halloween? At least those who feel the conviction to try and promote a healthy lifestyle might consider a few healthy alternatives.
Before entirely deboarding the good ship lollipop, remember the fun you had assuming another identity for a night, becoming the hero you always admired or adopting a personality you weren’t brave enough to try in broad daylight. You don’t have to take to handing out pistachios to travel the nutritional highroad.
Average miniaturized Halloween versions of candy bars are at least 100 calories per serving less than their full-sized parents. Snickers minis, for instance, are 170 calories for four squares, versus 271 calories in a full-sized bar. And who says anyone has to have a full four squares? A conscientious eater could, in theory, enjoy a single Snickers snack for just under 50 calories. One could even make the argument that there are healthy peanuts swimming somewhere in the ocean of nougatty, caramel goodness.
Those forced by conscience into straddling the fence between hosting an all-out Wonka-fest and getting toilet-papered for going treatless could consider the best of the worst. Raisinettes, a candy standard, are sugary, but mostly from the raisins. Peanut M&Ms are generally accepted among the healthy set as at least more nutritionally dense than their solid chocolate siblings, and a definite go-to when your only option for lunch is the office vending machine. Dark chocolate versions of any candy are usually more healthy than their milk chocolate counterparts, with less sugar and a higher level of antioxidants.
When parting from among the popular, avoid the charlatanism of “fat free”. It’s usually added sugar making up for all the fat-cutting. Nutritionally flat though they may be, Twizzlers are guilty of playing the fat-free card, but they’re still this old girl’s weakness. Four of the snack-sized versions have only 120 calories (though mostly carbs). Still, on a good night, I can self-restrain to stealing just one from my kids’ bounty for 30 calories of artificial fruit-flavored satisfaction and a little guilt-free energy boost. In fact, I’d be disappointed if everyone read this article and boycotted candy-giving altogether. Sheesh, people! Lighten up!
If you’re going to just say no to feeding Spiderman, channel all that social responsibility into doing more. Volunteer to help a local church or organization with their Fall Festival efforts or Tailgate Halloweens. Treat the neighborhood kids to a community Halloween party, do a walk-through Haunted Garage with the help of a few neighbors or plan to perspire through a haunted trail or cornmaze with your own goblins.
But for those zombies who, in spite of the unholy and unhealthy tags stamped against their favorite fall activity, still press on furred and frilled against a waning gibbous moon, couldn’t you at least reward them for the trek? Find NO or LOW CALORIE giveaways like these and keep them by the door. That way, you won’t be among the dark, unwelcoming houses every kid hates where, not knowing what to do, someone refused to do anything at all.
Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog: Treats to create a healthy spell
Tung Toos combine two kid favorites— temporary tattoos and candy. These candy tattoos for tongues are ZERO calories and available in flavors from fun to sour to downright nasty! They come in special Halloween designs and can be found at Kroger and Party City stores.
Kids, teachers and parents alike love the
no-mess craftiness of Wikki Stix (candle wick-like in concept, but tons more fun). The Trick-or-Treat Pak comes with 50 individually wrapped Wikki Stix and a Halloween playsheet to create a self-sticking window decoration.
Non-toxic, no mess and made in the USA, they are perfect for kids ages 3 and up. Candy-free, wax-coated multi-colored yarn you can bend and twist again and again.
Pack of 50 “treats” — $21.50
“Eat No Evil”
and Dark Angell
organic candy bars
Pure as the driven snow ingredients portioned to be about half the calories of a regular sized bar, with all the flavor. Betty Lou’s, a company specializing in taste-full and gluten-free vegan products, is giving the unhealthy snack market a run for its money, one delicious bar at a time.
Cost-prohibitive for distributing to the masses, but a perfect treat for a party or to satisfy evil chocolate cravings at home.
$21 per dozen
This Halloween, turn your house into the hit of the ‘hood with Bubble Buttons, a great trick-or-treat item that offers an alternative to the sugar-laden sweet stuff.
Bubble Buttons put an end to the concave home screen button of any i-Devices (iPhone, iPad, iTouch) and add fun, flare and style. These “stickers” are resin-coated, which gives them a bubbly feel that will change the way you look and feel and about the home screen button.
Available in 10-different themed packs with six different designs, the Monsters and Yummy packs are perfect for Halloween and way cooler than handing out raisins or pennies! Other designs include: Peace & Love, Spiritual, Smiley, Sports, Music, Sci-fi, Mustaches and Animals.
www.bubblebuttons.com or amazon.com
$4.99 per pack
Other no-calorie or low-calorie options
— Classic wax lips, fangs and teeth and mustaches
— Stickers and mini-activity books
— Temporary body tattoos
— Martian fingers or Halloween-themed finger puppets
Go to www.orientaltrading.com for interesting and affordable nonfood treats, available in bulk.