Goblins, witches and ghosts, just a few of the scary things about Halloween. But do you know what is really scary? At least to this dietitian? All the candy that kids will be consuming for the next few days, even weeks. How can you ensure your little ones don’t overindulge, while still celebrating the excitement of the holiday? Below, some simple tips to make this Halloween a little less spooky nutrition-wise:
1.Start by giving out a healthier Halloween treat. Some alternatives include: Cereal bars, snack packets of dried fruit, baked pretzels, nut and seeds, trail mix, animal crackers, 100 calorie packs of various products, single serve boxes of ready-to-eat cereal, mini boxes of raisins, fig cookies, individual juice drinks (100% juice), single-serve packets of low-fat microwave popcorn, sugar-free hot chocolate or apple cider packets. Or go the non-food route and distribute stickers, dollar-store toys, decorative pencils, erasers, bubbles, or glow sticks.
2. For a fun and healthy Halloween party idea, have kids make various creatures out of veggies, fresh and dried fruit, cheese and pretzel sticks. Provide low-fat dressing for dipping when done.
3. Another fun activity that doesn’t have to include sweets – pumpkin decorating! Let the kids’ imagination run wild (under supervision of course!). Have kids use paint, stickers, yarn and other craft materials for decoration (leave the carving to mom and dad!).
4. Get outside! The fall season is perfect for visiting an orchard or farm to get your whole family moving and out in the fresh air. Pick your own apples, search for the perfect pumpkin, and instead of the more sugary treats, take home some fresh apple cider to heat up with some cinnamon sticks for after dinner.
5. Instead of loading their lunches with candy, get a bit more creative and cut their sandwiches with a Halloween-themed cookie cutter for a spooky surprise.
6. Have a candid conversation with the kids about their candy. Tell them that while it’s okay to eat any food in moderation, candy is a treat generally reserved for special occasions, like Halloween. Review their loot after trick or treating, and discard anything that looks odd or is unwrapped. Ration out 2 small pieces at a time over the next few days. But after about a week it’s time to trash – or better yet – idea number 7!
7. Donate your candy to soldiers overseas! Soldiers use candy to coax local children in war-torn countries to disclose the locations of buried IEDs. To donate your family’s candy, visit www.opgratitude.com and send an email to email@example.com. Check out this great video which describes the program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxIHgabfxKA&feature=channel_page.
You and the kids CAN have a healthy and fun Halloween. Moderation is key and focusing on other activities besides eating treats can make the holiday even extra special. Happy Halloween everyone!