Halloween is a great opportunity to teach your kids about healthy habits and moderation. Based on the nutrition labels on popular candy, the average child accumulates 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween. That doesn’t mean that the holiday can’t be any fun, however. Think of this as a learning opportunity for your children. If your child generally follows a healthy diet, it is perfectly fine to let them indulge in a little candy on Halloween. Sheltering kids from sweets and treats doesn’t teach them how to manage and regular their eating. Follow these tips to help your children to enjoy Halloween treats without overindulging.
- Eat a healthy meal before trick-or-treating. If your kids are full before heading out, they will be less hungry to overeat candy during the evening.
- Incorporate exercise into trick-or-treating. Encourage your kids to walk from house to house instead of driving them. You can even give your kids a pedometer to wear to so they can see how far they walk on Halloween night.
- Let your kids indulge a bit on Halloween, but teach them how to incorporate candy into their diets by following appropriate portion sizes in the days afterwards. After Halloween, let your kids have 1-3 pieces of candy per day so that they learn that unhealthy foods can be incorporated into a healthy diet in moderation. Offer candy at lunch, as part of an after school snack, or as a dessert after dinner.
- Teach your kids that there are “everyday” foods and “special occasion” foods. Wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy are important to incorporate into your diet every day. Candy is a “special occasion” food can be incorporated into a healthy diet once in a while.
- Use this opportunity to teach your kids about mindful eating and help them learn to be in tune with the signals their body sends them when they are full. Encourage them to stop eating before they feel full or sick. Teach them to savor and enjoy small amounts of treats as a part of a healthy diet.
- Be a role model by eating Halloween candy in moderation yourself. To avoid temptation, buy Halloween candy at the last minute and be sure to give it all away to trick or treaters. Show your kids that you can follow a balanced diet and eat treats in moderation.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Keep candy in the kitchen hidden in a cupboard rather than letting your kids store candy in their bedrooms. When it is out of sight, your children will be less likely to grab and eat mindlessly.
- If you are looking for healthier treats to hand out on Halloween, animal crackers, granola bars, whole grain cheddar cheese crackers, sugar free hot chocolate, popcorn, pretzels, and raisins are good options.
- Consider handing out non-food treats, such as spider rings, stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, erasers, Play-Doh, sugar-free gum, glow sticks or little bottles of bubbles.
Remember that Halloween is one day of the year. If your family follows a sensible diet during the remainder of the year, one day of indulgence is okay. Use this opportunity to teach your kids how to incorporate treats into a healthy diet.