Halloween can be an exciting time for both parents and children; dressing up, trick-or treating and receiving masses of candy. Although fun for many, for parents Halloween can also be stressful.
How do you encourage kids to enjoy what Halloween has to offer, without having them overdo it on the candy?
Here are our top 5 tips for a healthy Halloween!
Tip #1: Buy your Halloween candy at the last minute
Keep the candy out of the house before Halloween; it will reduce the temptation to break into the stash early! Try making some healthy treats, such as this healthier chocolate hummus or dark chocolate apples, to get into the spirit a bit early. Or, if you are looking for an alternative to candy, try giving out glow in the dark bracelets, erasers and pencils and/or removable tattoos.
Tip #2: Fuel up before you go out
Before heading out the door to go trick-or-treating; serve a healthy and balanced dinner. Remember the healthy plate model when planning meals and aim for ½ plate of vegetables, ¼ plate of whole grains or starch and ¼ plate of protein. Serving a balanced dinner ensures your kiddos are nourishing their bodies, and will help to prevent your child from being ravenous when they get home.
Tip #3: Sort the candy
When your child comes home from trick-or-treating have them sort out their treats into two piles: the “loves” and the “can live with outs”. Ask your child if they would like to trade their “live with outs” candy pile for something else, such as swimming passes, a new toy or an activity of their choosing. This teaches your child to make mindful food choices and not just eat something because it is there.
Tip #4: Treat Halloween as a learning activity
Once your child has sorted through their candy, let them eat as much as they want on Halloween night. Discuss what happens when one eats too much candy (that they may get sick) but let them learn. This helps to teach your child how to self-regulate their treat intake down the road and also removes the “all or none” eating mentality around sweets. This decreases the chance that your child will try and sneak treats or overindulge when you are not around.
Tip #5: Let your child manage their own candy stash
When Halloween is over, don’t be the candy police. If you micro-manage your child’s intake, your child will not learn to manage it themselves. Work with your child to come up with a number of candies that they believe can healthily fit into their day, and then let your child determine when they want to eat the allotted treats. If they are unable to manage it themselves, don’t take away their allotment, but take control and hand it out to them on a daily basis.
Remember every child is different; use these general guidelines to take the stress out of Halloween and preserve the joy!