Taking the Tricks out of the Treats – Making Informed Choices

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Taking the Tricks out of the Treats – Making Informed Choices

Written by Dr. Clare Sullivan, abortion Naturopathic Doctor

Halloween is just around the corner, and let’s be honest, it is a super FUN holiday! The sound of leaves crunching under your feet, staying up late on a school night, dressing up as your favorite superhero and getting free treats everywhere you turn – what could be better?  There is no denying the excitement it brings.  Today, in light that parents and children alike will be eating way too much sugar (and salt, food additives, food colouring, etc.) next Monday evening, I would like to talk about keeping things in perspective, to help us all make informed choices.


The World Health Organization recommends a maximum daily intake of added sugar (for adults) of 25 grams per day, the equivalent of about 6 teaspoons. What, you may ask, does 6 tsp look like when you are sorting a pillow case full of mini treats? Here is a very short guide to give you a sense.  If you do the math, it’s not too many treats.




Sugar (g)

Tootsie pop 60 15
Skittles 61 11.4
Kit Kat (snack size) 73 9
Jolly Rancher lollipop


Snickers (snack size) 42.5



Moving on to sodium, the World Health Organization recommends less then 2000mg per day.  This may appear to be a slightly better option than sugar but keep in mind this comes at the end of the day after we have likely consumed our daily quota in the form of meals and snacks.  Here is how much sodium is found in some of your favorite treats.


Treat (Snack Size)


Sodium (mg)

Doritos Nacho Cheese 150 210
Lays Classic Halloween 90 105
Pringles 100



Keeping the FUN in Halloween

I am not here to take all the fun away – my children and my husband would have none of it!  I am here to urge you to have conversations about what we are all putting into our bodies.  Be clear about what is acceptable to put into your body and teach by example.  Your family will emulate what you do long before they listen to what you say! Read labels together and talk about the ingredients in the “treats” – sugar and salt are the most obvious but what about food additives, food colouring and hidden allergens such as nuts, soy and gluten.  I challenge you to use Halloween to have conversations about health and empower your family to pay attention to their bodies.

Conversation Starters for a Healthier Halloween

  1. The ingredients found in the candies, chocolate and chips they collect. Set out the guidelines before sorting the candy together and help your children learn which ones are not OK to eat and which are OK in moderation.
  2. The difference in how their bodies feel after eating candy vs. good food. This should be a frequent conversation as it helps them bring awareness to their bodies and helps them learn to self-regulate.
  3. What are some other options to hand out that everyone is on board with – put your heads together and get creative. Stickers, pencils, glow sticks, quarters, and dried fruit snacks are a few examples.
  4. Have an open conversation before the trick or treating has begun about how many treats are enough today, tomorrow and going forward. Talk about what to do with the rest of the candy.
  5. Talk about doing other fun Halloween activities – create a haunted house for neighbours, have a pumpkin carving contest, or a Halloween themed dinner with friends.

For my family, it is a work in progress.  We have found a great way to use the abundance of Halloween candy is to put it away for decorating gingerbread houses at Christmas.  It is fun, creative, and so far, I have convinced them that gingerbread houses are for decoration!


Let me know how you plan to take the tricks out of your treats!




Sarah Vadeboncoeur