Top 10 Steps Towards a Healthier Halloween
By: Melissa Halas-Liang
1. Focus on the FUN
Shift the attention away from the candy and onto the costume. Hold a costume contest for the neighborhood. From Scariest, to Cutest to Funniest, each kid can win a title. Make the grand prize a fun activity like jump ropes, kick-balls, chalk and other outdoor activities.
2. Trick or Toy
Did you know that researchers have found that when presented with the option of a Halloween toy or Halloween candy, children opt for the toy nearly half the time? This is good news for weary parents and children who think Halloween can’t exist without the treats. Holiday themed stickers, pencils or erasers, plastic spider rings or other small toys and temporary tattoos make great treats that kids will love and enjoy well beyond that one sticky bite.
3. Treat Kids to a Healthier Halloween
Give away snack sized packages of sunflower seeds, popcorn or whole-wheat crackers instead of the usual miniatures loaded with sugar. If you want to stick with something sweet, try dried fruit, prepackaged squeezable applesauce or banana chips.
4. Push Play!
Instead of consuming the calories, encourage kids to expend them with activity coupons. Giving away coupons to your local bowling alley, ice skating rink, batting cage or other indoor play centers is a fun way to encourage families to get up and be active together!
5. Add Physical Activity to your Halloween
Trick-or-Treat in a new neighborhood. Choose a safe neighborhood about a mile from your house. Walk there and back. That, along with trick-or-treating, will help burn extra calories. Additionally, encourage your kids to focus on having fun and being active with their friends rather than competing over going to the most houses and getting the most candy.
6. Eat before you go
Be sure to have a healthy, high fiber meal before you set making half your plate fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate whole grains, and a quarter of your plate a lean protein. This will ensure that you and your kids aren’t starving and will cut down on how much you snack while you are trick-or-treating. Better yet, make it a rule that the kids can’t try any candy until it’s been inspected at home.
7. Out of sight, out of mind
When the kids come home from trick-or-treating, let them select and save their favorite treats and allow them to eat one a night. That’s it! Permit yourself to throw the less desirable candy out. Don’t consider it to be wasteful, after all its loaded with sugar, high in calories, and low in nutrients. Rather than candy, choose healthy treats that provide nutritious benefits and taste great too! Keep it out of site and out of mind.
8. Be a Good Role Model
Kids want to do what their parents do, and that includes eating. Make sure you set a good example by not overindulging in the Halloween candy either. Practice mindful eating. If you are going to eat a piece of candy, connect to your senses and look, feel, smell, and taste the candy rather than gobbling it down. You will find yourself satisfied with only one piece.
9. Freeze away
If you don’t want to throw out extra favorite candy, put some in the freezer. Just don’t use candy as a reward for good behavior. You will have treats for the rest of the year! But do try to let go of any wasteful guilt when candy is tossed.
If you want to donate food to those in need, skip the candy donations and offer healthy staples, or for our armed services, a variety of dried fruit like mangos, raisins or apples.
Let kids enjoy the candy in the right amount and don’t stress about it. Just make sure they are eating a healthy dinner and getting plenty of exercise. Those few pieces of Halloween candy aren’t going to make a difference when you eat healthy and exercise regularly. Always remember not to put kids down for eating these foods or use negative words like fat, piggy or chubby. Instead use phrases like "heart smart choices to help you grow healthy and strong" to teach them a lesson in healthy eating.
Be sure to pay attention and inspect candy before your children eat it. Don’t let them eat opened candy packages or anything that looks suspicious, especially if you don’t know where it came from.
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