EAT HEALTHY ON HALLOWEEN: NOT AN OXYMORON!
How many days of the year is it perfectly acceptable for children to dress up in crazy costumes, get free candy by the handful and stay up later than usual? It comes as no surprise that kids absolutely love this special day of Halloween that basically gives them free reign to become wild animals screaming for candy up and down the street. What may seem like a sugar-intoxicating nightmare for the parents of these monsters, zombies, ghosts and goblins, might be less dramatic if parents make smart decisions the day of Halloween, so their children might just get through the night without a vampire wanting to suck their sugar laden blood.
As a nutritionist, most would assume it’s a big no-no for our three children to eat tons of candy on Halloween. I can assure you, we are not passing out raisin boxes or toothbrushes at our home (much to our dentist’s chagrin)! I want our kids to have a blast with their friends trick-or-treating. I know they will happily eat their fair share of candy, and then some. But, I start Halloween day smartly, making sure they are eating healthy meals and snacks, drinking lots of water and going into the evening feeling rested, hydrated, well-fed, strong and oh so excited.
Tomb Time Talks
A few weeks before Halloween, take this opportunity to talk to your children about healthy food choices, what they do for your body and how they make you feel. Have your children help out in the kitchen so they’re part of the meal prep and clean-up team! Encourage and model healthy food choices – they are listening and watching! Remind them that taking care of their bodies and teeth is important. Talk to them about what moderation means, especially moderation in eating sweets. Discuss and reach an agreement with your children on how much candy they might eat Halloween night (Alert: they will most likely eat more than this amount.) Agree to a plan for where the candy will be stored and how much they can consume each day. Even if your children are young, it is never too early to talk about healthy foods, making good choices, and eating in moderation!
Fang-Tastically Haunting Halloween Meals
What you chose to feed your children before heading out for trick-or-treating will make all the difference with each one’s energy level, appetite, and hopefully will aid in reducing the amount of sweets they eat. Make sure they are eating healthy, smart and protein-packed meals the day of Halloween, especially dinner. It’s also important that your kids have plenty of healthy snacks to grab the day of Halloween. You may even want to carry snacks with you while trick-or-treating for easy and smart pick-me-ups, especially in-between the sugar highs and lows.
Healthy Favorite Meals and Snacks
Veggies with dip (hummus, guacamole, ranch type healthy dressing
Fruits (berries, sliced-apples, grapes, pears)
Home-made trail mix
Turkey roll ups
Nut butter sandwiches
Halloween-Themed Meals and Snacks
Whole-grain Spaghetti Brains: Cook your pasta sticky and serve it in a ball of spaghetti noodles
Spider Webbed Pizza: Have your children decorate their personal sized pizza so that it looks like a spider web using shredded cheese
Grape Eyeballs: Peel the skin of a grab to look like slimy eyes
Mummy Hot Dogs: You can make your own buns in the oven hotdogs using canned bread dough
Boooonanas: Bananas can be decorated with chocolate chips to make a delicious looking ghost
Pepperoni Jack O’ Lanterns: Cut out little triangles in pepperoni slices. You can even make little grilled cheeses out of them.
Veggie Skeletons: Shape cut veggies into a skeleton for fun veggie eating.
Spiders On A Log: Celery with nut butter and put some fake spiders on the plate as decorations.
Witches & Water
Keeping your kids hydrated the day and night of Halloween is key, after all, being spooky works up quite the thirst and appetite. Hand out little bottles of water to keep other trick-or-treaters hydrated as well. Carry water with you that evening. It may increase your chances of having to run home to use the potty, but it’s better than risking your children getting dehydrated.
If you give your children a pillowcase as the trick or treat bag, they will happily fill it to the brim. Plan ahead and pick out a more reasonably sized bag to fill. They will still feel mighty proud about their full bags and candy loot, especially if you make a big deal about how much candy they can fit into their bags. Maybe even let them design the bag so they really feel proud to carry it around. Plus, can you imagine how heavy a pillowcase filled with candy is to tote?
Frightfully Fun Alternatives to Sweets
If you really do not want to give out sweets to your trick-or-treaters, there are lots of other fun alternatives that won’t label you the “skip” house for years to come. And who knows, your fun gifts may excite kids even more than the standard candy bag every other house is giving away. (You can hope!)
Dress up toys like fake mustaches, goofy glasses, eye patches
Fake vampire teeth
Bouncy ball eyes
Halloween sticker packs
Slime (parents might not love you for this one :)
Broomsticks and Toothbrushes
Halloween is a night of chocolate, gummies, lollipops, sugary everything. It’s important to brush those teeth no matter how late it is or how many whines cry out from the crash of the sugar high. The reminder that cavities are no fun might just motivate a teeth brushing.
Werewolf Candy Attack
Allow your children to pick out their favorite sweets from their stash and put those aside. Let them know that the rest will be donated or that “The Candy Witch” may take it away (aka mom or dad). In our home, the candy witch leaves a little gift for each of our children in place of the candy she has taken away. Our kids are so excited to see what the candy witch brings they hardly notice the missing candy…and they still have their stashed loot. Do whatever works in your home to try to reduce the amount of candy lingering well after the trick-or-treating. There is no good reason for your children to snack on candy, days or even weeks after Halloween.
Providing healthy meals and snacks, drinking lots of water, talking to your children about moderation, making a candy plan and pact and brushing those sugar filled teeth will all help your children have a healthier, memorable and still uber fun Halloween. Don’t forgot to make these same healthy choices for you!