By Melanie Beach, MS, RD, LDN
Pediatric nutritionist, The Dimock Center
When you hear the words ghost, goblins, costumes, black and orange, black cats, and candy, it can only mean one thing…Halloween is coming! With the night of trick or treating quickly approaching, parents can struggle with how to have a healthy Halloween. Between the parties and candy and cupcakes and grocery stores filled with candy, parents might be looking for strategies on how to limit candy intake, and even sneak in an apple or two between Milky Way bites.
- First, try to limit candy access. Keep candy in a place where kids can’t grab for it whenever they want. That way you can control how much they eat.
- Decide how much candy per day is reasonable (no more than 3 snack-sized pieces each day is recommended). Place limits and be consistent! If you tell your children they can only have one piece of candy per day, only allow them to eat one per day. Don’t give in to their pleas or demands!
- Add something healthy each time they eat candy. For example, if your child usually has an apple for a snack in the afternoon, allow him a piece of candy with half an apple. Don’t replace more healthful snacks with candy!
- No matter how much we as adults hope that certain candy is healthier than others, the ugly truth is that no candy has good nutritional value.
- Make sure your children have at least one hour of physical activity per day to burn off those candy calories. This could include gym class at school, an after school sports club, or even a walk around the block. If you join your child in the activity, you get to burn off those calories too!
- Be a good example for your child. This is a special time of year and it’s okay to splurge a little, but try not to go too sugar-happy. If your child sees you control your candy eating, she will follow your lead.
- If you’re the party host, include some healthy snacks such as raisins, trail mix, or cut-up fruit with yogurt dip. Popcorn with seasonings like garlic salt or paprika, or a little grated Parmesan cheese, is a good option. Even a candied apple provides some fruity nutrition.
- Last, remind your children to be safe when trick-or-treating! Make sure they are always with a group of people, and a trusted parent or adult is nearby. Have your child carry a flashlight and wear reflective tape on a dark costume.
Although Halloween is a fun, candy-filled time of year, there are ways to make it healthy and keep you and your children from becoming sugar goblins!
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