Halloween is the highlight of the year for many kids and teens who look forward to dressing up in costume and collecting as many treats as possible. With it being high season for candy, this season can be a frustrating time for parents who work hard to encourage their children to eat healthy food and limit their sugar consumption. It's ok to allow kids to indulge and enjoy the holiday, just keep in mind the importance portion control. We certainly don't want to take the fun out of Halloween, but just offer some tips to make it healthier. Hopefully these tips will make for an enjoyable, but healthy Halloween!
1. Eat Before Trick-or-Treating
If kids eat dinner before trick-or-treating, they will be less likely to eat candy along the way. Fill them up with something healthy and festive like turkey chili served in a carved out mini pumpkin, or one of these fun mini mummy pizzas. Check out our #HealthyHalloween ideas on our Fall Foods Pinterest board. Something else to try is offer a cup of warm, low-fat milk with one treat before bed to ensure their blood sugar is stable before sleeping.source
2. Introduce the "Halloween Pumpkin Fairy"
This may be a new idea, but we think it's a good one! Tell your children (if they're young enough to believe it!) that if they leave their bag of candy on the front porch, the Halloween Pumpkin Fairy will come by and replace it with a toy. Or, for the older ones, offer money in exchange for their candy.source
3. Throw away the most colorful candy
By throwing out the most colorful candy (think Skittles, Starburst, Fun Dip, etc.) you're saving your children (and yourself!) from artificial coloring. The safety of products containing artificial dyes has been a point of debate for decades with adversaries claiming they are toxic, carcinogens and may contribute to ADHD. This is not to say that your chocolates don't contain some artificial coloring (hello M&Ms), but it's safe to say the most colorful candies certainly contain more of them!source
4. Trick-or-Treat and Exercise
Encourage your kids to walk from house-to-house rather than you driving them. Consider giving them each a pedometer and see who can be the most active while trick-or-treating! Make it a game: if they receive a Snickers, do 5 jumping jacks. If it's Skittles, do 3 frog jumps on your way to the next house. This just might bring out the sillies in your kids and encourage some playful exercise
5. Establish Limits
Nutritionists suggest that a little candy goes along way. It's best to allow 1-3 pieces of candy per day and make it a part of regular meal times. For example, one piece at school with lunch, one with a healthy afternoon snack, and one after dinner. Take time to go through your child's bag of candy and set boundaries for them. Always choose fun size, and choose healthier, dark chocolate versions. Cut larger candy bars into smaller portions. Put the "stash" in the freezer or somewhere where it's out of sight and therefore, out of mind.
6. Give It Away
After trick-or-treating, have your children make two piles of candy: one containing the candy they want to keep and the other containing the candy they agree to give away. Consider donating the giveaway pile to the Ronald McDonald House in your community, a senior citizens home, or Kosair Children's Hospital. Contact your dentist and see if they're hosting a "Sweet Swap" or a "Candy Buy Back." Many dentists nationwide (and we know of some in Louisville, like Mortenson Family Dental) buy candy from kids for $1 a pound and then ship it to our troops oversees via Operation Gratitude. Not to worry, troops will also receive toothbrushes, mouthwash and floss!
Most importantly, remember that Halloween is just one day on the calendar. One holiday of indulgence won't have a lasting effect on your family if your family is active and eats healthily and sensibly most often during the year. Happy Halloween!