Halloween treats have been lining grocery store aisles since the kids went back to school and co-worker’s candy bowls at work all month long. Check out these five parent tips to help you create a healthy Halloween game plan with your family. I’ve also included a list of nontraditional treats that can help balance out your neighborhood’s offerings yet not be a candy kill-joy.
- Eat a nourishing dinner and hydrate. A group of hungry, dehydrated, sugar-intoxicated goblins is a frightening picture for any parent! Plan dinner ahead of time with your children’s help, picking out a meal that is healthy and hydrating. Examples include chicken noodle soup, turkey chili, turkey sloppy Joes or veggie quesadillas served with a side of diced fruit, low-fat milk, 100% fruit juice or water. Children can get overheated in Halloween costumes, especially when it is combined with running from house to house throughout your neighborhood so have them pack a water bottle.
- Set limits in advance, beginning with only purchasing what you need. Ask your children to help you decide on the route you will take, how many doors you will knock on, and what hour the night ends. Having an end goal will help you avoid the “just one more,” or “but we have not gone to…” meltdown that persists all the way home. The same goes for candy consumption. Agree on how much candy your children are allowed to eat on Trick or Treat night and each day thereafter. You may want to make a similar confidential agreement with yourself. Note: “Unlimited access” or “until the chocolate is gone” is not a good plan. What is reasonable? Two mini size bars or 1 full size bar per day.
- Provide healthy snacks: Keep healthy between-meal snacks in view and accessible. A bowl full of juicy red apples, bananas, or seasonal fruit is a better centerpiece than the Halloween bag. Assign a kids’ shelf in your refrigerator and fill it with low-fat yogurt, string-cheese, fresh cut vegetables and diced fruit.
- Don’t attach emotions to candy. Do not give candy more status than it deserves. In some instances, the more something is forbidden or overly restricted, the more desirable it becomes. Try not to use candy to reward, bribe, punish, or convey love. Attaching emotions to certain foods can inadvertently set the stage for disordered eating in the future, including those that lead to under and over eating.
- Create new family rituals that keep kids moving. This avoids Halloween becoming all about the candy. Stuff a scarecrow full of leaves, visit a corn maze, create a scavenger hunt for fall items, such as acorns, pinecones, wooly caterpillars, animal tracks, and colorful leaves; return to the zoo now that the weather is cooler and the animals are more active.
Nontraditional Treats are great because they can help balance out a lunch box for many weeks to come and even create a candy diversion.Individual bags of peanuts or trail mix
- Individual bags of pretzels, baked chips
- Rice Krispie Treats
- Dried fruit – apples, raisins, craisins
- Fig Newtons or Granola Bars
- Microwave low-fat popcorn
- Sugar-free Gum
- Individual boxes of cereal
- Toothbrush, floss or a mini tube of paste.
- Jump Rope
- Glow in the dark anything: bracelets, necklace, glow stick
- Vitamin water, V8 Juice Blend or 100% Fruit Juice Box
- Dark Chocolate kisses or Dark Chocolate Mini Hershey Bars