Make the H in Halloween stand for healthy
Mandi Turner is a pediatric clinical dietitian with Cardon Children's Medical Center.
Question: How can I make Halloween more healthy for my kids?
Answer: For many kids, the true highlight of Halloween is coming home after collecting treats and sorting through the piles and piles of candy that spill out of their Halloween bag. For parents, this is both a treat and a feat as they try to keep their kids from going candy crazy.
As a parent, your goal is to offer a fun Halloween experience without alienating your child’s nutritional needs. With increased childhood obesity cases and the related increase of children with diabetes, high cholesterol and other blood fats (diseases that used to only occur in adults), it is important that parents follow a few guidelines when looking through their child’s Halloween haul.
- Feed your child a good meal before Trick-or-Treating. Children are less likely to eat while visiting door-to-door if they are full.
- The rule “all things in moderation” includes candy. The ingredients in most candy—namely sugar, artificial colors and sweeteners can cause bloating, diarrhea or headaches if too much is consumed plus can add to hyperactivity, dental cavities, excess caloric intake and loss of interest in regular meals in the long run.
- Add a little extra physical activity into your Halloween schedule. Exercise can help kids burn the extra sugar/calories they are consuming and this will likely prevent putting on extra pounds.
- Kids with diabetes or other health issues can still have treats. Parents need to monitor portion sizes and remind their child to eat in moderation, having only a couple pieces of candy per day (not all of it on Halloween night).
- Look for age-appropriate candy. Children under 3 years old can choke on candy with caramels, nuts or larger candy nuggets. Children under 5 years old shouldn’t have jawbreakers or hard candies which can chip their teeth or cause chocking.
- Throw out any candy that has loose wrappers, wrappers with holes in them, or home-made candy. Be sure to inspect for candy that has off-coloring since it might be expired and inedible.
- Have your child split their candy into smaller bags that they can bring to school each day. This will allow you to control their consumption while still allowing your child to enjoy his or her favorites.
- Have your child “trade” their candy for fun prizes, like glow-in-the-dark spiders, Halloween-themed stickers or pencils, coloring books or games.
There are many ways to make sure your child’s Halloween is as fun as it is healthy. Follow these simple instructions and the treat of Trick-or-Treating will be a stress-free holiday.