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Halloween may be celebrated only on October 31st, but there are endless opportunities for kids to snack on candy, treats and unhealthy food for days before and after.
Between parties at school, friends’ houses and in the community, and the actual trick or treating itself, kids are loading up on sugar and calories. In fact, research shows kids typically fill up on a whopping 3,000 calories on trick or treating alone!
Don’t get me wrong. I love candy just as much as kids do so I’d never suggest you nix trick or treating altogether. But a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows childhood obesity rates are still at an all-time high. Not to mention all that sugar can lead to cavities and the before-bedtime-crash and meltdowns that ensue.
Instead of letting your kid overindulge this year, here are some ways you can cut back on all those treats and have a healthy Halloween.
1. Feed kids dinner
If your kids go trick or treating on an empty stomach, they’ll be more likely to eat too much candy, which is empty calories that spike their blood sugar.
Instead, make sure your kids eat a healthy dinner that consists of healthy protein, fruits and vegetables and whole grains before you head out. If eating dinner beforehand isn’t an option, however, serve a healthy snack: cut up peppers and hummus or an apple with almond butter, for example.
Instead of driving your kids from house to house, walk and track your activity on your
3. Pay attention to portions
Your kids will get plenty of candy but that doesn’t mean they have to eat it all at once. Let them pick 3 pieces (or what you deem appropriate) and call it a night. If they get full-sized candy bars, divide them into smaller portions and put the rest away.
4. Give options
If you’re at a party and there’s cake, cookies and candy, let your kids choose one or two small treats they want.
5. Put it away or donate it
If you keep treats out in plain sight on the counter, your kids are more likely to grab for them instead of a healthy snack when they’re hungry. After Halloween, store candy in the freezer and dole it out occasionally instead of letting them have a free-for-all.
If having candy in the house is too tempting for you, bring it to work, or donate it to a food pantry, your local church or the fire or police station. Many dentists also offer Halloween candy buy-back programs.
6. Re-think treats
Instead of bringing candy to parties or handing it out to trick or treaters, consider better food options such as:
- Dried fruit
- Hot chocolate
- Trail mix
Or nix food altogether and hand out small toys, Play-Doh, stickers or pencils, for example. It doesn’t matter what you hand out—kids just want to get something in their bags.
7. Buy candy you don’t like
If there’s candy in my house that has chocolate in it, it’s a guarantee that I’ll eat it. Instead, I purchase candy I don’t like so if there’s leftovers, I won’t eat it.