Halloween is a time of year for kids to indulge their sweet tooth. That can mean heaps of sugar-covered and chocolate-dipped treats of every variety—a scary prospect for parents who want their kids to maintain healthy eating habits.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to make sure kids avoid a sugar overload and still have fun with the Halloween haul they bring back.

Don't skip dinner. Feeding your children a nutritious meal or snack before parties or trick-or-treating will keep them from being able to fill up on too many sweets. 

Help kids practice portion control. When your children return home with their candy stash, sort through it and set limits on an acceptable amount to eat over the next several days. One tactic is to remind your kids that if they don’t eat it all now, they’ll have more treats for later. In a KidsHealth survey of 1,200 children, more than half (60 percent) said their parents should put limits on their candy intake—while roughly the same number said they voluntarily set their own limits. 

Get a little creepy—and creative. If you’re hosting a Halloween party, have fun with fruits and veggies, and get the kids to help. Create carrot-finger food or banana ghosts, and make pizza faces with low-fat cheese, bell pepper strips, black olive slices, carrot slices, and pizza sauce. And instead of serving chips or cheese puffs, go for pumpkin seeds. 

Mix in healthier snacks. For trick-or-treaters, hand out some healthy Halloween treats that kids will like, such as cheese-and-cracker packages, low-salt pretzels, animal crackers, small boxes of low-sugar cereal, mini candy bars (instead of jumbo-sized ones), snack crisps, and cereal bars. Packages of dried fruit, raisins, or trail mix are also good options.

Consider nonfood treats. Not all treats have to be sweet. According to a Yale University study, children are just as likely to choose toys as candy on Halloween. So dole out an assortment of stickers, bubbles, and small activity books. To prevent a choking hazard, don’t hand out small toys to children younger than 3.