Let’s face it, Halloween isn’t the healthiest holiday around. At least you can adapt most of your other holiday meals to include smaller portions and more healthful options. But on Halloween…it’s all about the sweets. So, what’s a parent to do!?
Well, for starters STOP WORRYING! Your kids aren’t going to rot away all their teeth and gain fifty pounds just from one night of carefree indulgence. BUT that’s the point, it’s just ONE night of indulgence. So keep the following tips in mind while celebrating this Halloween:
- One night means one night. There’s no reason to take your kids trick-or-treating in multiple neighborhoods a few nights—or weekends—in a row. Just like there’s no reason for them to eat candy every single day thereafter either. (See #5.)
- Take them trick-or-treating on a full stomach. Make sure your children have had a well-rounded meal before you head out so they aren’t chowing down on candy between every house. (That goes for you too!)
- Make trick-or-treating into an active game. Hopefully your little ones are dressed in comfortable costumes—ones they can actually move around in. Don’t just plop everyone in a stroller or a wagon. Race each other between houses: running, bear walking, hopping, leap frogging—the possiblities are endless. Sure, you may get a few odd looks from your neighbors, but it will hopefully keep your kids from squabbling while in transit, and tire them out!
- Then of course you could also work together with your neighborhood to offer healthier snacks in lieu of candy. Popcorn, natural fruit snacks, granola bars, crackers, trail mix, temporary tattoos, bouncy balls, pencils, coloring books, and any other conglomeration of trinkets. There are plenty of inexpensive options out there if you are willing to put in a little planning and effort—and work together as a group with multiple neighbors. (You don’t want to have the house that gets egged for handing out “undesirable” treats!)
- Let your kids pick just a few pieces of candy to eat that night when they get home. Then encourage them donate half (there’s often programs that send candy to soldiers overseas) or exchange it for a gift—like books or games. The rest goes in an out-of-sight and out-of-reach cabinet and only revisited for special treats or occasions. (And no, every lunch and/or dinner is not a special occasion.) Be wary of regularly offering sweets as a reward for good behavior or grades too. We all know how that goes…”I worked out tonight, I deserve a piece of cake!”
- Make Halloween more about the fun of decorations and dressing up. Instead of trick-or-treating consider having your own party where you have much more control over the amount of sweets being served. Older kids? Haunted houses are always a lot of fun too. (Just consider the type and suggested age groups before you head out, there’s some pretty gruesome haunted houses out there these days!)
You can also check out this post from “Chin Up” a health and fitness blog for the Journal Sentinel: