Halloween doesn’t mean that you have to abandon good eating habits in order to enjoy. Halloween actually offers an excellent opportunity to teach your child about balanced, healthy eating habits. Teaching your child how to include a treat as part of their healthy eating plan, how much they can eat and when treats can be eaten all provide learning opportunities that help your child to establish healthy eating habits.
Here are my 10 Tricks for a Healthier Halloween!
1. Eat a nutritious meal before going trick-or-treating
Feed your child dinner or a healthy snack before trick or treating to discourage snacking on “treats” while out or eating candy for dinner.
2. Set expectations early
Before Halloween discuss with your child how much fun it will be to go trick-or-treating, but not so much fun for their body if they eat a lot of candy. This can be a good segue into a conversation on balanced eating and nutrition.
3. Create a Candy Plan
After trick-or-treating have your child dump all of their “treats” onto the kitchen table and then sort them into three different piles:
- their favorites
- the ones they think are just so-so
- and ones they don’t really care for
The goal of the three piles is to allow your child the chance to designate their favorites and give you the chance to combine candy into portion-controlled snack baggies so it’s not all eaten at one time.
For items that were placed in the “sort of like” and “don’t like” candy consider:
- Using it to decorate gingerbread houses
- Making a candy sculpture or a mosaic
- Or let your child “trade in” their candy for money or a toy
4. The Power of Choice
Many candies are are filled with hydrogenated fats, refined sugars and other saturated fats. Give your child the opportunity to learn about making healthier choices. Teach them to read and understand nutrition labels on their candy treats. When it’s their choice to “have” or “have not,” the temptations are usually not as great.
5. Everything in Moderation
Focus on portion control rather than forbidding or limiting a candy intake. Through consuming them in moderation rather than eliminate them, your child will learn the importance of balanced eating. Dividing candy into snack baggies is a great way for your child to practice portion control. Help your child see the benefit of making Halloween treats last longer through consuming it in moderation. Encourage sharing the candy with friends which not only does it thin out the candy supply, it enforces sharing!
6. Avoid Mindless Eating
Keep candy in the kitchen and avoid storing in bedrooms or playrooms. Store the extra baggies of candy in a cabinet out of reach to avoid temptation and to prevent continuous and mindless eating of candy. Candy should only be enjoyed at the table, rather than sitting down in front of the TV and mindlessly munching.
7. Make it Nutritious
Eat a piece of candy with a glass of non-fat milk, apple slices, or cheese and crackers to add some healthy nutrients. Make a “well rounded” snack. Turn candy into a balanced snack mix using foods you have on hand: cereal, nuts/seeds, dried fruit, pretzels, and mix it with a little bit of candy. This can make a great afternoon snack!
8. Avoid Post-Halloween Temptation
Skip the clearance candy sale. It’s not as good of a deal as it seems. Save your money and your waistline by skipping the clearance candy aisle!
9. Make Traditions
Halloween is about so much more than just the candy. Enjoy the season by getting outside and visiting pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hay rides.
10. Use your Halloween candy in non-traditional way
Donate it- Consider the Halloween Candy Buy Back program (www.halloweencandybuyback.com/). Many local dentists participate in this program where they buy back candy from kids and send it to the troops overseas.
Create Art- Make mosaics out of the hard candy, hold a best candy sculpture contest, or use it to decorate a gingerbread house.
I prefer the everything in “moderation approach”, but if all else fails here is a creative twist to minimizing candy related sugar and fat intake. Tell your child about the Halloween Pumpkin (or Halloween Fairy) who comes by at night and leaves a toy in place of the bag of candy.