I remember as a little girl, Halloween was a chance to wear a funny costume and eat lots of candy. While much excitement and advertisement related to Halloween is focused on candy, it doesn’t mean you have to let your healthy eating guard down with your family. Try some of these simple tips to keep a rein on overindulging and keep the fun in Halloween.
Parents know that Halloween extends beyond October 31st; children bring home enough candy to last them weeks, maybe even months. Teaching them moderation is important so they are not filling up on candy and missing out on important nutrients. Instead of making candy and sweets off limits, teach your kids the importance of eating more healthy items and limiting the sweets and candy. Having open discussions about portions, balance, and how our bodies feel after eating certain foods will be more effective and rewarding than setting strict limits. Eating a balanced diet is also better for your teeth. Good dental hygiene in concert with limiting high amounts of sugar can prevent cavities. A great idea to make it easy for your kids to choose healthy foods would be to have options readily available. Some ideas include:
“Eat the pleasers, skip the teasers”
Sometimes we eat foods because they are there, not because we are hungry for them or even enjoy eating them. However, we can teach children to be thoughtful about the foods they choose to eat, including candy. Teach your kids to separate the “pleasers” (the candies they really love) from the “teasers” (the ones they eat just because they’re there). Then give away or throw away the teasers. This idea will teach them mindful eating and to enjoy each bite.
It’s no surprise that a high intake of sugar is a common cause of cavities. Dentist Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says “it’s OK to eat that candy on halloween but it’s important to have a plan”. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends halloween candy shortly after mealtimes. Saliva production increases during meals which cancels out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinses away food particles. Another great ADA tip goes along with the idea of “eat the pleasers, skip the teasers” described in the paragraph above. Have your family choose only their favorites and donate the rest. Your teeth (and budget) will thank you if you limit your stash. Check to see if your dentist has a “candy take-back program”. Remember it is important to schedule regular appointments with a licensed dentist for you and your family. Check out the American Dental Association’s website “Mouth Healthy” for more tips on dental hygiene during halloween and all year long. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en?source=ADAWebsiteTab
Walking from house to house can provide a reasonable amount of physical activity for trick-or-treaters and the parents who escort them. However, safety is important too. Be sure to find a safe area to trick or treat. A good rule of thumb would be to look for areas with a lot of other trick-or-treaters. Watch out for cars as you walk through the neighborhoods. Don’t forget to check the parks in your area for Halloween events. Many parks in St. Louis host activities on or before Halloween.
With these simple tips, Halloween can be healthy and safe without ruining the fun. Check out these websites for safe places for trick or treating:
Written by: Vanessa Winegar RD, LD
Let's Move! STL Dietitians