Dressing up, school parties, costume parades and trick-or-treating—these are the reasons Halloween tops the list of many kids’ favorite days. While no one wants to ruin this spooky and sugary celebration, with all the health concerns surrounding sugar and the poor diet habits of millions of Americans, can’t we find some ways to cut back on excess while still having fun?

Here are a few helpful tips for Halloween and the days before and after—when candy is literally the buzz word.

1) Switch it up. Cut your contribution to the candy landslide (Americans spend a whopping $2 billion on candy in the days before Halloween!) by giving out an alternative. Think: boxes of raisins, ginger chews, temporary tattoos, glow sticks, fake fangs, stickers, small boxes of crayons or neat pencils, packages of nuts, dime store toys and other small treats.
2) Lay the groundwork now. Before All Hallow’s Eve, make family rules about the amount of candy everyone is allowed to eat on Halloween day and post-Halloween (including parents)!
3) Consider a treat swap and offer your child a trade for their candy. For example, give them a nickel or dime for each piece of candy they turn in—then allow them spend it on a toy, book, game or app instead. Or you could let them pick out something they’d like (within reason, of course!) and you can barter with them on how many pieces of candy it will cost them.
4) Try alternative trick-or-treating. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has an incredible Halloween campaign running since 1950—and has raised more than $170 million for children around the world. Visit www.trickortreatforunicef.org/ order to order your free donation boxes and call out “Trick-or-treat for UNICEF!” when that door opens! What a great way for kids to enjoy the holiday and learn the joys of giving to others.
5) Limit the number of treat-gathering hours to curb the candy haul. Continue the fun by having your child invite pals over to play Halloween-inspired games or a watch spooky movie.
6) Eat three healthy protein-based meals the day of the festivities. With a full tummy, your child will be less apt to eat mounds of candy on the go and may even grab fewer treats from overly generous neighbors.
7) Eat candy at mealtime. Sounds odd, but you have a lower risk of developing tooth decay if you eat sweets during a meal. Acids have a better chance of being washed away by saliva and the liquids drank along with meals. Or if they’re really itching to have a piece as a snack, have the kids swish some water around in their mouths afterward to decrease the acid.
8) Go organic. If you do buy candy, try to stick with organic candies made of real cane sugar. Find these at many natural foods stores!

With a little pre-planning, it is possible to curb a bit of the candy craze this Halloween. So get out there and have fun with all those little ghouls, ghosts and superheroes.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!