Tricks and Treats for a Healthy Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner and everyone knows what that means – an overabundance of candy. While sweet treats are great in moderation, it’s easy to splurge on chocolate and sugar around this time.

The average American consumes approximately 3.4 pounds of candy, the equivalent of 7,000 calories, over Halloween. Scary, right? Don’t worry; there are a few ways parents can make this spooky holiday healthier for everyone.

Dinner First, Treats Later: Eating a nutritious and filling meal before heading out to trick-or-treat can be a great way to ensure little ones do not overindulge in treats throughout the night. Though a few snacks along the way are probably guaranteed, full tummies will discourage them from making candy their dinner.

Keep Walking: Halloween can be a great time to emphasize the importance of staying active, especially when considering all of the extra, candy-induced calories. While it might be tempting to drive from house to house, it’s important to dress for the weather and keep moving. To put it in perspective, a person would need to go for a 39-minute bike ride to work off the calories from five, mini chocolate peanut butter cups. Make a family goal of how many houses to visit and get walking, but don’t forget to bring water!

Moderation is Key: Make a plan with children that outlines how much candy will be eaten. Let them pick out 10 of their favorite pieces for the week and then span those items out so only one to two pieces are eaten per day or every other day. Through this routine, kids not only learn about moderation, but how to make better choices and ration their treats. This allows parents to cut down on the amount of candy available and take control over how much is consumed on a day-to-day basis.

Share the Wealth: Americans purchase approximately 600 million pounds of candy each year for Halloween. Children in bigger neighborhoods tend to bring home a hefty amount of goodies and if moderation is 6167937426_25cee642cc_zexercised, will not be able to consume all of his or her candy. One way to lessen the amount collected is to use a smaller bag. Still, to ensure nothing goes to waste, there are donation programs that will take leftover candy and ship it to those without access such as Operation Gratitude, which sends candy to U.S. Troops. Some dentists even participate in a candy buy-back program that allows them to pay children one dollar for every pound of candy donated.

Mix It Up: With free-flowing candy abound, it’s nice to provide trick-or-treaters with something different. Instead of sweets, parents can pass out granola bars, snack-sized cracker bags or decorated produce like jack-o-lantern clementines or ghost bananas. It might be even easier to do something non-edible like stickers, spooky tattoos, glow sticks or coloring books. To encourage physical activity, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk and bouncy balls also make great treats. Get creative! Kids are more likely to remember the house that gave them something unique, as opposed to just another candy bar.

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Photo Credit: William Warby (feature) and Jamal Fanaian via Flickr

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