Tips for a Healthier Halloween

Halloween is full of scares – ghouls, goblins, and the amount of sugar your kid devours! The constant excitement of the season consumes kids, young and young at heart alike. The decorations, costumes and scary movies are all harmless fun, but the amount of junk food consumed can give our bodies a real fright.

It’s hard to take the ‘treat’ out of trick or treating, but Halloween doesn’t have to be a free for all of junk food. One night of indulgences is fine, but the problem is the days of constant candy consuming that tends to follow, and the cravings that are set off, making snacking on junk food a regular occurrence in one’s diet.

So how do you keep yourself or your family from gorging on goodies? Setting out a few guidelines can help curb candy consumption and make it a less unhealthy time of year.

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  • Don’t buy Halloween candy until the day or two before you need it and don’t open it until you’re ready to entertain trick-or-treaters. The temptation of treats is too much for us mere mortals!
  • Before going out, talk to your children about how much time they will actually be trick-or-treating. My suggestion: 1 hour does the trick!
  • Ensure that your child has eaten a good dinner before going out, to lessen their hunger and to prevent snacking along the way.
  • Take stock of what your kids have received. When the children return home set out two piles of candy - their favourites and those they don’t like. Decide that you will give away or toss out the least favourite candies.
  • Choose how many treats they can have each day. To keep to a healthy amount, I would suggest two small treats in their lunch bag. One for lunch and one for a snack in the afternoon.  If you’re not serving dessert after dinner, another small treat is fine.
  • In terms of calories, I would allot 150 calories daily for these treats which represents about 10 % of a child’s daily calories. Your best choices are the fun size or mini treats that are around 60 calories each.
  • Allow this pattern of snacking for only one week. Then you have to decide what to do with any remainder.  You could try freezing them for another celebration or taking them to your office.
  • Your family can be the role model and hand out other treats besides candy and chocolate. Granola bars, rice crispy snacks, sugarless gum are all options. What about no food at all? Play Doh, stickers, tattoos and other little toys are all enjoyed by kids. You can mix in one healthy and one regular treat if you fear the wrath of those little monsters!
  • Exercise counts when trick-or-treating. If your kids want to stay out longer, decide to visit areas where the houses are further apart.  Even have your kids wear a pedometer and have a fun contest to see who can reach the most steps!
  • Parents must control where the candy is in the home. Store it in a place the kids can’t reach. You must be in charge of its distribution, even if the kids plead. I can’t tell you how many candy wrappers I used to find under my kids’ beds!

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Halloween should be fun, and the occasional treat should be allowed. The issue is forming unhealthy habits at a young age that stick with us as we grow up. Sugar and fat are addictive foods.  The more we eat, the more we want. This is why we must limit these sugar binges.

Once a year a high sugar and fat intake is fine but remember, holidays, birthdays and all other celebrations always seem to be popping up, which gives us another excuse to splurge.  Keep these quick tips in mind to prevent weight gain and poor eating habits in your children. The earlier the better! Happy Halloween!