Gone are the days of trick-or-treating for endless hours and coming home with a bag of treats almost too heavy to carry . Ok, maybe those days aren’t gone but many people are opting for healthier choices these days, and experiencing many health benefits. When Halloween comes around each year, many parents struggle to maintain the healthy habits that they have helped their children develop. Parents don’t generally want to be viewed as “Halloween Scrooges,” yet they want to limit the sugar that their kids eat.
Too many kids still eat more sugar than ever. This leads to a high consumption of high fructose corn syrup (also known as jet fuel for the body), which is known to be a leading contributor to childhood obesity. High fructose corn syrup is made from genetically modified corn and enzymes and devoid of nutrients. Reducing the amount of high fructose corn syrup that your children consume should be a priority.
The key to a healthy Halloween is compromise. Kids are exposed to so much media hype and so much peer pressure that they can be easily lured into making unhealthy choices when it comes to snacks. Compromise with your kids and allow a small amount of the highly-coveted sugary stuff in exchange for several good choices. By allowing small amounts and monitoring the consumption of sugary snacks carefully, you can help prevent obesity and tooth decay, as well as many other potential unhealthy side effects—while keeping your kids happy.
Parents should be prepared for a possible negative reaction from their kids when they first start to limit the Halloween candy. Some parents opt to allow small amounts of Halloween candy for the first few days after the holiday and then simply throw out the leftovers. Some parents opt to store some candy in the freezer, so that it can be enjoyed at a later date and spread out over a longer period of time—this helps to avoid the possibility of binging right after Halloween.
Offering other types of treats in lieu of Halloween candy is another popular option. Instead of a bagful of candy, you can put together a basket of fun and active toys, like balls, Frisbees or other simple things that encourage kids to be more active. When kids are active and having fun, the loss of Halloween candy is quickly forgotten!
Fortunately, there are plenty of options when it comes to limiting Halloween candy for your kids. While it may seem “unfair” or “mean” to your kids, parents are responsible for helping children learn to make healthy choices. Rather than pile on the candy, find some fun and healthy Halloween recipes that incorporate fruits and veggies instead of candy—yet make them in fun eyeball shapes or design a healthy “graveyard” using hummus, guacamole and plenty of cut up veggies for tombstones. When you can make healthy foods fun, you will find that your children are more likely to choose them.
The long term benefits of limiting excess sugar and additives from the diets of children are countless. Teach your children about healthy choices at a young age and you can help prevent many of the possible diseases and chronic conditions that could develop later as a result of poor habits.
Here are my top tips for Halloween Health 101
- Feed your children a healthy meal before they head out for trick-or-treating, this will help prevent them from eating the candy simply because they are hungry.
- Instead of candy, hand out small treats like yo-yos or temporary tattoos.
- Healthy alternatives may include dried fruit snacks, granola, or trail mix.
- Allowing the occasional candy treat for your kids is okay, as long as they do not overindulge.
- Help prevent overindulging by hiding the candy and allowing only small amounts at once, or offering the candy as a dessert after a healthy snack like chopped veggies or fruit.
- Be clear with your kids about the limits, and emphasize that you are trying to keep them healthy. Forbidding the candy completely may lead to having your kids sneak or hide the candy, so explain the importance of healthy choices and moderation.
These are only a few suggestions to help make Halloween a little healthier for your family! Most importantly, remember that everyday healthy choices make for the healthiest kids, and the occasional slip-up or indulgence is not the end of the world—just make up for it with extra healthy choices afterwards!
Try out these fun healthy Halloween treats for the big and little kids!
Dried Fruit Eyeballs
- Apple rings
- Dried apricots
- Flatten two dried apple rings to form one pair of eyes using the palm of your hands or a flat bottomed bowl or glass.
- Slice a dried apricot through the middle, making two circular halves.
- Press one half, sticky side down, onto each apple ring over the hole.
- Cut raisins in half and press one half on each apricot to make the pupils.
- Small seedless watermelon
- Peel the green rind entirely from a small seedless watermelon, to expose the inner white rind.
- Slice the bottom of the melon to make a flat surface.
- Using a toothpick, carve squiggly lines in the melon to look like the furrowed surface of a brain.
- Using a paring knife, carve the lines into shallow channels that reveal the pink flesh underneath the rind.