Halloween is among the most highly anticipated holidays for many of our kids. My 3-year-old and 6-year-old are no exception. However, as we all know, it is also a holiday saturated with sugar, and thus a challenge to navigate in a healthy way. Here are a few tips and tricks from my tool bag.
- Use Halloween as a learning opportunity. Our kids need to learn how to include sweet treats in moderation as part of an over-all healthy diet. Depravation is not the answer. We know from research that girls who are treat-deprived end up eating more sweets even when they are not hungry and weigh more. Girls allowed regular sweet treats tend to eat moderately of sweets, if at all, and weigh less.
- Work toward your child managing his/her own stash. This is how the best learning happens. If your child follows the predetermined rules you set in place, she retains control of her loot. The night of Halloween, I suggest letting your child have as much as she wants from her trick or treat candy. The next day, it needs to be relegated to meal- and snack-time. You choose how many small pieces to allow at each meal and snack.
- Practice Portion Control. This goes out to all the neighbors with their front porch lights on and candy bowls full. You don’t have to give our kids a fist-full of candy. In fact, please don’t. Could you instead choose one fun-size candy? This will help your candy bowl last all night, and it helps us parents arrive home with a more reasonable candy volume in the hands of our kids. Because, child or adult, who really needs fistful after fistful of candy anyway?
- Consider handing out healthier options or non-food treats. Whole grain cheddar crackers, 100% fruit leathers or low-fat pudding cups are a few nutritious alternatives that come individually wrapped. Or stock your treat bowl with stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, or similar low-cost non-food items.
By Katie Sonnek, Registered Dietitian