Halloween is almost here and I’ll bet that there’s been some candy along your path today. Whether it was in the candy jar at work or home, or the aisles of the grocery or big box store, you’ve seen more candy than usual.
So I’m writing this post not just to offer some guidance for parents who are concerned about their child’s safety and health this season, but also for the adults who have a hard time resisting the candy jar themselves. Here are some quick tips to consider so that everyone has some healthy fun:
- Focus on a healthy diet every day. Offer fruits and vegetables at each meal. Be sure your 9-18 year olds are getting their four servings of dairy daily (the fruit, vegetable, and dairy groups are generally the most neglected). Make it easy – Try slicing up an apple for your child (or your teenager, and yourself) – I guarantee if you put a sliced apple in front of them, they’ll eat more apples than if you give them a bowl of whole apples, or no apples at all! It’s okay to enjoy a little caramel dip with it – consider that the dip delivers the good nutrition and fiber in the apple!
- Consider nutrition when sending in treats for school. In addition to Trick-or-Treat night, children often are exposed to candy every day during this season! If you’re helping out with a classroom party – consider the fruit group (sliced apples or oranges), the dairy group (string cheese, yogurt) or veggies (raw carrots, raw broccoli) for snacks. Healthy can still be fun!
- Be sure to eat dinner before Trick-or-Treating. I realize it’s a hectic evening, but plan ahead for a quick supper. Sandwiches, soup, chili, or a slow-cooker meal are all great choices. Just be sure to get some food into your youngster before they head out. This will also help adults maintain control over their own candy-eating.
- Tell your child not to eat anything from their trick or treat bag while they are out (eating dinner beforehand helps with this). You’ll want to inspect the bag for safety (discard any open packages, or loose candy) once they’re home.
- Once you go through their loot, let them enjoy a few pieces of their favorite treats, then put it away (possibly in the kitchen pantry). You may want to put one piece of candy into lunchboxes the following week as a treat. This also helps moms and dads keep the candy “out of sight, and out of mind”.
Help your children enjoy special occasions, emphasizing that a healthy balanced diet is important every day. Set a good example by eating right and exercising each week, and having no guilt when enjoying sweet treats. Happy Halloween!
Footnote: If you still believe that sugar causes hyperactivity, consider the facts. This is a controversial subject without solid proof of cause. Remember, “observational” is not “causal relationship”. Consider the idea that children get excited around holidays and birthdays, so it may indeed be the excitement surrounding the occasion, rather than the menu.