How to Enjoy a Healthier Halloween
While Halloween is a holiday favorite for many children, for parents, Halloween can be quite frightening. For the kids, the spooky part of Halloween may be the creepy costumes and decorations in the neighborhood. For the adults, it’s all that candy! According to the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s School of Public Health, the average child in the US collects 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of Halloween candy on October 31st (source: http://healthland.time.com/2012/10/30/5-tips-for-a-healthy-halloween/).
As a parent, you may find yourself faced with the dilemma of “Halloween only comes once a year”, and “how do I make sure my child stays healthy?”. Read below for some tips to enjoy a healthier Halloween, without your child feeling deprived!
- Don’t buy candy for your own household (your kids will be getting enough from the neighborhood!). If someone in your house plans to pass out treats to trick-or-treaters, pass out a non-candy option such as fruit, pretzels, popcorn, trail mix, or something spooky such as fake Halloween teeth.
- Decide as a family beforehand what the plan is for the leftover candy. Do you plan on letting your children eat as much candy as they want on Halloween, then donate or throw out the rest? Or do you plan on allowing them a few treats of their candy every night until it’s gone or they have had enough of it? Include your children’s opinions and decide together.
- Eat a healthy dinner. Kids usually have a good sense of eating when they are hungry, and stopping when they are full. Have the family sit down before trick-or-treating and eat a healthy dinner that’s balanced with protein, vegetables, and whole grains to help prevent hunger and snacking on candy later on.
- Sneak in some exercise. If your neighborhood is safe, walk or bike instead of driving for trick-or-treating. Chances are you’ll clock in a couple miles or more!
- Stick with the family’s plan for leftover candy. If you’re choosing to keep the candy, store it in a cool, dry place (or even the freezer) so it won’t melt or get sticky. If you are choosing to donate it, options include bringing the candy to the local fire department, or participating in the Halloween Candy Buyback, where children can trade in their candy to dentists for prizes.
- Teach your children portion control. If your family decides they will be keeping the candy, use this as an opportunity to teach your children portion control! Divide some of the bigger “king size” candy bars into smaller bags, and encourage your children to follow the serving size on the nutrition facts label.
- Sneak some health into the candy. If you chose to keep the candy, there are ways you can sneak in some health! If your child collected a lot of small candies like m&ms, Skittles, Swedish Fish, candy corn, or mellocremes, toss them into a bag with nuts and dried fruit for a homemade trail mix. Melt solid chocolate bars and dip in fruit such as strawberries, bananas, or apples.
- Enjoy extra exercise as a family. You don’t have to go for a family jog, but increasing physical activity the day after Halloween can help your children release some of their built-up sugar energy. Enjoy fall activities such as walking through a corn maze, picking apples or pumpkins, or taking a stroll to see the fall leaves.
- Balance out the extra sugar with an extra helping of fruits and vegetables for a few days after Halloween. For a few days following Halloween, pack some extra carrot sticks at lunch, an apple for an afternoon snack instead of pretzels, and a second scoop of broccoli at dinner.
Remember, Halloween comes but once a year, so make sure you and your family are enjoying the fun of Halloween, rather than being focused on how much candy you should all be having (or not having). Be a safe trick-or-treater by only stopping at people’s houses you know and trust, not letting your children trick-or-treat alone, making sure no candy wrappers are open before you eat them, and cutting all the fruit you collect before biting into it.
Have a happy, healthy, and safe Halloween!
Written by Alyssa Simon
Written on Sep 13, 2015
Last updated on Oct 31, 2015