A Parents' Guide to Healthy Halloween
Gum, toffee, lollipops, chips, candies and chocolate can be every parents worst nightmare at Halloween, not to mention the artificial ingredients that they contain! Many parents struggle with how to limit what their children will eat. Depriving your kids of sugary treats will not protect them with the risks associated with poor diet. Rest assured there are strategies that many professionals advocate! By teaching them about healthy eating, moderation, budgeting and giving back to charity you will be able to limit the amount of junk consumed! Here’s some advice:
No trick-or-treating on an empty stomach (for the same reason you try not to grocery shop on an empty stomach!)
Limit their trick-or-treat route. Stick to your own street or your own block, no need to venture too far! After that route is done, it’s home time. This will cut down on the total amount of candy collected.
Let your children know they can eat a certain number of treats when they get home, and put the rest away in a place they cannot access themselves.
For the week following Halloween you have a few options:
Allow your children 2 treats per day, and don’t give in to requests for more! Set a ‘treat time’ so that snack time isn’t all day.
Set up a ‘store’ for Halloween candy, by dividing the treats into big and small. Each child gets 3 tokens per day, and they can spend 1 token for small treats and 2 tokens for bigger treats. The children have the option of ‘buying’ treats to eat that day OR they can save their tokens and trade them in for a larger reward at the end of the week! For example, the latest video game could be ‘sold’ to them for 12 tokens, or perhaps a trip to the movies is worth 10 tokens.
Make your own healthy treats! Search for healthy Halloween treat recipes (like these: http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/10-ideas-for-healthy-halloween-snacks-kids-will-love/). Get creative, enlist the help of your children and make it a fun activity.
Don’t keep candy around beyond one week, for the sake of you AND your children! Teach your kids about people and animals around the world who are in need. Let your kids know that one week after Halloween you will have a ‘cash for candy’ day. Your kids get $1 per 5 pieces of candy they surrender to you (or whatever amount you decide) and they get to use the cash buy food to bring to a shelter, or pet food to bring to the SPCA. Take them with you when you donate so they can see the good that they are doing!
Have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy Halloween!
Dr. Chelsea Derry, BSc, ND