Nutrition 101

6 Tips for a Healthier Halloween.

Who doesn’t love Halloween with all the costumes, decorations and treats? One frightful fact is that the average child accumulates between 3500 to 7000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night! With a little bit of planning, this historically sugar-laden holiday can be a great time to help kids learn healthy behaviors by stressing moderation and balance.

  1. Fill up with healthy food pre-Trick-or-Treating – Halloween night is not conducive to preparing a meal or even sitting down to dinner with Trick-or-Treaters hitting the doorbell every 5 minutes. Plan ahead! Many families have a Halloween tradition to have a pot of soup simmering on the stove or a crock pot full of chili for the kids when they get home from school. A balanced meal is always important, but especially on a night when the goal seems to be accumulating as much candy as humanly possible in a short period of time! Halloween is on a Tuesday night this year. Try to plan ahead with a quick healthy meal that does not involve ordering out or picking up fast food!
  2. Keep the kids moving – Most of the time we see kids walking from house to house. This is a beautiful thing. Depending on the age, some children may be pushed in strollers or pulled in wagons. While you need to keep your family’s needs in mind, Trick or Treating should be a physically active evening! Keep track of your steps with a Fitbit, pedometer or on your phone!
  3. Set an example – When it is time to purchase Halloween goodies, think about what you would want your own kids to come home with. We are long past the expectation that people will offer apples and carrots. However, a bag of pretzels, a granola bar, light popcorn, peanut butter crackers or a commercially packaged trail mix are all great options. Kids will enjoy for a snack or even part of their lunch. Some people may bypass food all together and hand out inexpensive school supplies, glow sticks, stickers or sample packs of useful toiletries. This is a time you can be creative!
  4. Sort and disperse  – Have your child go through the candy when they get home. Sort out what they like and what they are willing to part with, and under what conditions. For example, you might “buy” the candy from you child with cash, a gift card, a sleepover or movie tickets. Candy can be donated to a number of places too – check with local churches, schools or organizations – or look online to find candy drop off sites. Once they have selected a predetermined number of treats, decide with your children the best way they might enjoy their stash. A little candy goes a long way.
  5. Keep it out of sight – Say NO to mindless eating. If candy is sitting out on the counter when the kids get home, they may want to indulge in something sweet instead of the healthy snack you have prepared. Keep candy in the pantry, the freezer or in a cabinet that is not easily accessed. Stick to the predetermined plan as to when and how much your children might enjoy at one time. Also, buy your least favorite candy so you aren't tempted to eat it!
  6. Double up  – Enjoy something healthy with a Halloween treat – Offer a glass of milk, a piece of fruit or some veggies with dip along with that small piece of candy. Remember portion control is key! You can also repurpose some of the candy and incorporate into healthier recipes. Perhaps break up a small candy bar and add to some yogurt. Make a zucchini bread and mix in small pieces of chocolate. Melt down chocolate and make chocolate covered strawberries or bananas. When in doubt, check out Pinterest for tons of ideas how to use up that extra candy!

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