healthy Halloween
young girl dressed for halloween

7 Tips For A Healthy Halloween

Posted on October 27, 2016 by Stacy Leatherwood Cannon MD

Spooky ghosts, ghouls and goblins roaming the streets aren’t the only fright on Halloween. October 31 may be the most terrifying night of the year – for your health. With kids scouring the neighborhood for their next sugar hit, it’s no wonder Halloween marks the start of the annual “fall slide,” when health and fitness typically get put on the back burner.

But there’s no need to fear this sweet holiday, particularly if your family follows a healthy lifestyle most days of the year. Here, seven strategies to help keep Halloween sweet but smart:

  1. Plan ahead. Don’t hit the streets for tricks and treats on an empty stomach. Instead, give your kids (and yourself!) a healthy meal before you head out, rather than waiting till after to eat. This will stave off Halloween binging, and ensure you and your family get some solid nutrition before indulging in empty calories. Also, knowing ahead of time that candy may be on the menu all week, be sure to add in extra physical activity and balance out sugar consumption with extra servings of fruits and veggies.
  2. Take inventory. Kids love to dump out their candy collection to see how much they scored. Rather than let them embark on a free-for-all, teach your children to separate their stash into piles. Place their favorites in the keep pile. Put defective candy (torn wrappers, handmade treats or others you question) in the toss pile. And save any non-favorite sweets for the give-away pile. The key is to set some guidelines about what’ll be eaten and when, so it’s not an all-the-candy versus none-of-the-candy proposition.
  3. Freeze your favorites. Help your child select a dozen of his/her favorite treats to enjoy during the week of Halloween, and freeze the rest. Then throw a piece or two in your child’s lunch bag once a week in the months following Halloween. They’ll love the treat and you’ll feel good about surprising them with something sweet.
  4. Host the festivities. Instead of trick-or-treating, throw a party! Invite everyone to dress up, serve fun and festive snacks and watch Halloween-themed movies.
  5. Focus on family. Halloween doesn’t have to be about candy and treats. Shift the focus to other activities like pumpkin carving, roasting pumpkin seeds (which, incidentally, are protein-rich and packed with nutrients) and decorating the house with cobwebs, spiders and other Halloween decor. And don’t be afraid to hit the kitchen and bake some healthier Halloween indulgences, like pumpkin muffins or cookies.
  6. Make safety top priority. Fasten reflective tape to kids’ outfits and candy-carrying pumpkins, or outfit them with glow-in-the-dark necklaces. Search your child’s candy supply for signs of tampering before you let him/her dive in. And if your child is under 3, remove choking hazards from the bag, such as small hard candies.
  7. Protect those pearly whites. There’s nothing worse for teeth than an overnight sugar bath. Be sure big kids do a good job on their teeth, and give younger kids a going-over with the brush yourself.

After Halloween, consider participating in a Halloween Candy Buy-Back program. More than 1,000 dentists across the country buy extra Halloween candy from kids to send to soldiers overseas. In exchange for the goodies, dentists give kids a candy alternative, such as toys, xylitol gum (made with a sugar-free sweetener that prevents tooth decay) or even restaurant coupons.

Over all, keep in mind that Halloween isn’t inherently unhealthy. In fact, it’s an ideal time to teach children how to make healthy choices while also having fun. Trick-or-treating typically requires taking a stroll (with treat bag weights!), which burns calories. Carving a pumpkin offers active family bonding and noshing on pumpkin seeds is a great way to get needed nutrients. Those are the Halloween treats worth celebrating!

For more healthy, family-friendly ideas, download our 5-2-1-0 Kids! app. The app provides healthy indoor games and teaches children the importance of healthy habits.

Categories : FeelWell

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