By Esther Blum
Every year, I read all the articles on Halloween candy and exactly why it’s so bad for you. Chock-full of GMOs, sugar, dyes, and plain old crap, there’s a case to be made for skipping out on the stuff.
However, I have a boy who has some chronic food allergies. This means that he skips out on participating in the food piece of events all year round. We regularly bring food for him to every party, family event, and yes, even movies so he can participate in the experience without feeling totally left out.
We focus on the joy of the experience and he knows that junk foods will make him sick. We celebrate his healthy eating choices and the fact that he’s in great athletic shape. But he hates feeling like he doesn’t fit in.
So on Halloween, I relax the rules so he can indulge and feel like a regular kid for once.
I think about all the freedoms my childhood afforded me–tons of Snickers and Twix bars and eating whatever I wanted–and I’m not saying I was the healthiest kid on the block, but there has to be a balance here.
So let the kid have some candy–and enjoy some freedom and balance in his life!
If you’re trying to get your family to eat healthy, navigating through Halloween can be a huge challenge. While candy may never qualify as “healthy” and should always be consumed in small amounts and from natural sources, Halloween is a good opportunity to teach your kids what to look for on food labels.
I also think about the environmental impact that candy has on the world, and am stoked to see that even Mars and Nestle are using only certified sustainable palm oil. Most of that palm oil comes from Malaysia, which is a world leader in earth-friendly environmental policies. The Malaysian palm oil industry is a huge contributor to wildlife conservation.
Here are 10 Halloween candy options from food manufacturers that are trying to do the right thing. Many of these options are also gluten-free.
1. Unreal Candy: All of its chocolate is certified by Fair Trade USA. Natural ingredients such as beetroot, carrot and red cabbage juices are used to color the candy coatings.
2. CLIF ZKIDS Bars/Brownies and/or Organic Fruit Ropes: These are USDA Certified Organic, and contain no artificial flavors or synthetic preservatives.
3. YumEarth Lollipops: I like these because they are USDA Certified Organic and available in reusable or resealable packaging.
4. Endangered Species Bug Bites: These individually wrapped chocolate squares are made with ethically traded cacao. A percentage of the profits are donated to support conservation efforts.
5. GoOrganic Fruit Chews: These are Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Certified Organic. The chews are made with Fair Trade-Certified sugar, and the bulk candy comes in home-compostable, cellophane bags.
6. Glee Gum Pops: Non-GMO Project verified, Glee Gum is one of the few North American gums still made with chicle, a tree sap harvested sustainably. The company partners with a nonprofit group to plant trees, revitalizing degraded lands.
7. Surf Sweets Fruity Bears: Available in Halloween treat packs of 20, they are USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project verified. They are also free of the 10 most-common allergens.
8. Dagoba Assorted Gems: In addition to being USDA Certified Organic, these chocolates are made with cacao from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.
9. Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups: These are made with organic, fair trade chocolate and locally sourced ingredients. The company donates part of its proceeds to worldwide hunger relief and poverty relief.
10. Nib Mor Chocolate: This company’s products are organic and non-GMO. Considering handing out the hot chocolate packets as well as the bite-sized treats.
Bear in mind if you’re doing this your kids won’t care as much as you do about whether you’re passing out a healthy or earth-friendly treat. And if younger kids don’t recognize the candy brand, they may not want to try it. But think of this as your guilt-free, grand teachable moment to be the chocolate fairy this year and win Halloween with your family.
About the author: Esther Blum, MS, RD, CDN, CNS, is an Integrative Dietitian and bestselling author of Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat; Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous; Secrets of Gorgeous; and The Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous Project. She currently maintains a busy private practice in Connecticut where she prescribes whole food diet therapy and supplement protocols to heal and reverse chronic illness.