Halloween might be a fun time of year for trick-or-treaters and costume party-goers alike, but it’s a time for parents to worry themselves to pieces about the health of their children. Did they brush their teeth after that post dinner candy treat? How much of their Halloween stash are they eating every day? And while worrying might be part of a parent’s job, it doesn’t have to be without solutions. So here are 10 little steps you can take to keep your family healthy during their ghoul-chasing antics.
Yes, you heard that right. It’s probably the only time when procrastination will help!
Don’t go out and buy your stash of goodies to give out until just the day before Halloween. This way you minimize the urge of digging into the pile yourself. What’s even better? Buy candy that’s not your favorite. Also, try and purchase less candy than you normally would so you don’t end up with too many leftovers.
2. Fill their tummies before trick-or-treating
The best way to avoid the temptation of eating candy while trick-or-treating is to eat a healthy meal before stepping out. Choose foods that are rich in proteins – chicken, turkey or nuts- and pair them with whole wheat or multigrain bread, crackers or fresh wheat pasta. These high-energy snacks will give you the stamina you need and keep the temptations at bay. After the kids are done trick-or-treating, offer them a cup of warm, low-fat milk to ensure that their blood sugar level is stable before bedtime.
3. Hand out non-sugary goodies
With kids it’s all about the packaging. Healthy treats like rice cereal or granola bars, fruit leathers and pretzels can be wrapped in innovatively ‘spooky’ ways. Not only will this draw their interest, it will also make them more likely to consume those over-sugary candies.
4. Toys are welcome
Given a choice, children will usually pick toys over candy, so parents should consider handing out stickers, glow sticks, tattoos, stationery or other knick-knacks instead. Little kids will especially love these.
5. Exercise while trick-or-treating
Instead of driving children from house to house let them walk. Not only will this allow them to enjoy and socialize with other kids, it’ll also prove to be great exercise.
6. Set a treat time
Like dinner time and breakfast time, set a treat time at home. Also, ensure that brushing teeth after treat time is mandatory. Tell the kids that each time they have a treat outside of treat time they’ll have to brush their teeth. Most children hate brushing their teeth and will therefore refrain from breaking the rule. They’ll also learn that sweets aren’t supposed to be an all-day feast and that moderation is the key.
7. Stash ‘em away
After Halloween, collect all the candy and separate a small portion to be eaten over the next couple of weeks. The rest can be sealed and put away in a spot that’s out-of-sight; if you and your children don’t easily see it, you won’t mindlessly eat it.
8. Play the trading game
Tell your kids they can “trade the candy in” for something they want – toys, books or anything that’s not edible. You can take the traded candy to work and distribute them.
Instead of finishing all the candy at home and accumulating extra calories, you could just donate it to a retirement home, women’s shelter or even a children’s hospital. Some libraries even have drop-offs for extra candy.
10. Make the troops happy
Alternatively, once your children are done eating a few of their favorite pieces of candy, offer them the opportunity to participate in Halloween Candy Buy Back (www.halloweencandybuyback.com) which allows children to trade in their candy for prizes and cash. The candy is then sent to troops overseas.