Halloween is filled with costumes, crafts, and, most importantly (to your kids, anyway) – candy.
Candy is fine in moderation, but Halloween encourages anything but moderation. On average, children consume 3,500 - 7,000 calories worth of sweet treats on Halloween. With obesity rates on the rise, along with the number of average childhood cavities, Halloween may be cause for concern.
As a parent, you want to keep your kids healthy—but you also don’t want to spoil their fun. Here are some ways to keep the holiday fun and a bit more healthy this year.
1. Hand out healthy options
Trick-or-treating doesn't have to involve candy! You can hand out healthier snacks instead. Try non-sugary foods like animal crackers, granola bars, pretzels, apples, or sugar-free hot chocolate packets. You don’t necessarily have to stick to food, either. Hand out cool toys, slime, stickers, temporary tattoos, glow sticks, or play-dough to give kids something fun that will stand out among all their candy.
2. Eat together before trick-or-treating
Make sure your children eat a filling, nutritious meal before hitting the streets. If your kids are full, they are less likely to gorge themselves on candy that night. Institute a moderation rule for the days following Halloween, too. Tell your kids they can eat their candy, but only a few pieces after they’ve eaten dinner. This will teach them to practice self-control and moderation.
The biggest benefit to trick-or-treating is walking (or, for some kids, running) from house to house. But many parents will drive their kids around, which eliminates the healthiest part of Halloween. Consider walking with your children to teach them about healthy habitats in their daily lives. You can even make it a competition between you and your kids using pedometers or activity monitors. A little sibling competition can go a long way!
4. Prepare frightfully fun (and healthy) snacks
Pick up a few Halloween cookie cutters, and go to town on some fruits and veggies, or put together a phantasmic version of ants on a log. Be creative! There are plenty of ways to transform healthy dishes into the perfect Halloween snack. Serve up these healthy options on Halloween-themed plates, napkins, and cups for even more fun.
5. Donate the leftovers
Your kids get way more candy than they could ever eat on Halloween. So why not donate the extra? Ask your kids to sort their candy and set aside a pile to donate to great causes like a food pantry, Ronald McDonald House, a senior citizens' home, or a children's hospital. There's even a "Halloween Candy Buy-Back" program where dentists buy back candy and send the candy (along with dental supplies) to U.S. troops overseas through Operation Gratitude. No matter what you choose, your child's selfless act will be much sweeter than eating all that candy.
While it's easy for Halloween candy craziness to get the best of your household, you can still make Halloween a fun and wholesome holiday. By all means, let your kids enjoy the sweets! Just remember that moderation is the key to a happy and healthy Halloween.
Check out our Pinterest board for more healthy Halloween ideas!