By Mandy Sacher

I’m a firm believer in balanced healthy diets for children. However, we also need to be careful not to demonise certain foods and ensure that lollies and sugar become ‘sometimes foods’ rather than something to deny kids altogether.

One of the most challenging times of year for achieving that balance can be Halloween when it seems like we are almost assaulted with a barrage of lollies, cakes and sugary, additive-laden treats!

However, I’m here to show you that healthy can still be delicious and with a few simple swaps, creative recipes and fun presentation ideas you can hopefully bypass the scary sugar highs and outwit the hidden nasties this Halloween.

Mandy Sacher; Paediatric Nutritionist and author of Wholesome Child is passionate about a healthy balance for kids.

Tips for managing sugar at Halloween

* Allow your children to choose two to three pieces of candy, chocolate or sweets and then offer them something exciting in exchange for the rest of their treats.

* Avoid trick or treating on an empty stomach. Don’t send your kids out hungry because they will be more inclined binge on their loot. Put a Halloween twist on an old favourite like stufffed capsicums. They are a quick and easy dinner to whip up your kids will love stuffing their very own spooky dinner.

Stuffed Capsicums are a quick and easy dinner to whip up your kids will love stuffing their very own spooky dinner.

* Keep them hydrated. Thirst can be mistaken for hunger and thirsty kids will also be more inclined to drink sugary soda and fruit juices.

* Have healthier treats on hand. Fill their loot bags with healthier treats such as dark chocolate buttons, nuts dipped in chocolate, raisins or sultanas dipped in chocolate, gingerbread men, mini trail mixes with chocolate buds or popcorn.

* Pick the best of the worst. If your child is determined to have their fill of Halloween treats then choose mini size varieties such as mini chocolates over full-size chocolate bars. Opt for choices that contain identifiable ‘real’ ingredients, such as peanut M&M’s (the peanuts contain protein which helps to increase satiety) over chocolate M&M’s. Wherever possible, aim to avoid brightly coloured snakes or gummy bears, which are a combination of artificial flavourings, colourings and sugar and can be gobbled up in seconds.

Homemade goodies let you know exactly what your child is eating.

* Homemade goodies. If you have the time, be prepared with easy-to-make homemade treats such as delicious Spooky Spelt Biscuits, Chocolate Quinoa Crackles, Halloween Pumpkin and Cinnamon Biscuits, Choc Chia Spider Pops and Choc Doughnut Witches Fingers – recipes you’ll find in the Wholesome Child book.

* Offer real food alternatives to lollies, such as peanut butter sandwiches, mountain bread wraps, mini pizzas, homemade scrolls or cut-up fresh fruit and veggie sticks. Sometimes just presenting food in a fun and ghoulish way can make all the difference.

Halloween doesn’t have to be a sugar-fest!

* If you’re entertaining this Halloween you might consider a Halloween themed cake rather than providing an array of sweets. You can say goodbye to the Halloween sugar rush and hello to healthy with this Marble Cake topped off with spooky banana ghosts! This delicious dessert will fill all the hungry tums, and be a feast for your eyes too!

To learn more about Mandy Sacher please visit the Wholesome Child website.