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5 Tips for a Healthy Halloween
Wondering if it’s possible to have a healthy Halloween? Here are some tips from dentists and nutritionists
Halloween is that sweet time of year when children can collect and eat as much candy as they want.
But with the obesity rate triple what it was a generation ago, and the number of cavities among children increasing for the first time in 40 years, some health experts consider the candy-focused holiday a nightmare. The holiday shouldn’t be all spooks and no fun. If your children generally eat well all year long, then experts say that there is nothing wrong with letting them eat candy on Halloween night and a few mini pieces daily afterwards. The key, of course, is moderation. Here are 5 tips to have a healthier Halloween.
Fill up before trick-or-treating
If kids are full before they go trick-or-treating, then they will eat fewer pieces of candy afterwards. Consider having your kids eat something healthy before they go out so they aren’t tempted to eat the candy along the way.
Hand out non-sugary foods and toys
Nutritionists suggest some more wholesome treats that parents could give trick-or-treaters. animal crackers, mini rice cereal or granola bars, whole grain cheddar cheese crackers, and sugar free hot chocolate packets, make good treats. Also, pretzels, apples, tangerines, fruit leathers, or a trail mix of whole grain cereals. Kids will usually take cool toys over candy if given a choice, so pencils, erasers, stickers, tattoos, glow sticks, and Play-Doh containers.
Cheddar popcorn balls in a plastic baggie sporting a smiling face can be instant pumpkin heads that are also a hit with kids who won’t miss the sugar of a sweeter treat.
Trick-or-Treat and Exercise
Walk from house to house instead of driving. Parents can even encourage siblings or friends to wear pedometers or activity meters and start a friendly competition for who can be the most active while they are collecting candy.
Keep your favorite sweets. Hide the rest…
Some nutritionists suggest that a little goes a long way and say it’s best to allow kids to have 1-3 pieces of candy a day, starting with lunch at school, as an afternoon snack, or after dinner, making it a regular part of meals. The rest of the candy can go in the freezer so that it’s out of sight and out of mind.
Parents should be just as vigilant about their candy consumption as children. Kids go to school all day, and parents are often home with the candy lying around. If you’re buying Halloween candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters, buy your least favorite ones so that you are not tempted to eat them.
…Or give it away
When children get back home from trick-or-treating, have them make two piles: one for the candy they want to keep, another for the candy they will not eat. Consider donating the second pile to a local senior citizens home, food pantry, Ronald McDonald House, or children’s hospital.
You can even make money off your stash and make a U.S. soldier’s day at the same time. This year, more than 1,000 dentists nationwide are buying candy from kids — $1 per pound — and then shipping it to U.S. troops overseas via Operation Gratitude as part of a Halloween Candy Buy-Back program. Soldiers will receive toothbrushes, floss, and mouthwash with each handful of candy so that they can brush thoroughly afterwards.