Out comes my party pooper hat—a nutritionist speaking about Halloween. No, I won’t lecture you to not let your kids collect their sweet treats. I won’t even ask you to throw out the leftover candy. I just wish the holiday could have more meaning, like I do with others: that Christmas didn't spotlight big glittery presents, and Thanksgiving wasn’t about gorging ourselves into a food coma. I wish Halloween were more about having spooky fun get-togethers with friends or cute dress-up parties with the neighborhood tots than collecting mountains of chocolate. I don’t like seeing the greedy eyes of young trick-or-treaters ogling my basket of candy and frowning when they get two pieces (many are bolder and yell “that’s it?”). I don’t like being compared to my kindly elderly neighbor whom all the kids flock to because she doles out full-size Snickers.
With the epidemic of obese kids whom we’re fighting to save from early health problems, the issue heightens during this season. The major holidays from Halloween through New Year’s Day add thousands of extra calories to our usual diets. In addition, the cold weather and shorter days may discourage the physical activity needed to balance out that extra intake. So, now that I’ve spoken my peace, here are some ideas:
Give out treats with a little less fat and calories. The cute pretzel packs are best but I doubt most kids see them as treats. Miniature or fun sizes of 3 Musketeers, Peppermint Patties, Tootsie Rolls, candy corn, and dark chocolate are appreciated. And yes, two or three pieces of this size are enough per child! For your own kids, allow a few pieces each night but with the agreement that they brush their teeth extra carefully afterward as all candy, regardless of calories, has lots of sugar.
Organize a fun costume party for your child inviting a few kids over, with small prizes and games. Make sure to include dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Or attend a dress-up Halloween or Harvest Party held in your community or local church.
If you go trick-or-treating, plan to eat supper first or at least a snack so your kids aren’t starving for sweets. Set a time or location limit of a half-hour or 1-2 streets, which controls the total amount of candy your child collects. Take some attention off of the candy by admiring all the fun spooky decorations at your neighbors’ homes and the creative costumes the other trick-or-treaters are wearing. Include time for some great photo sessions.
- Try ghoulishly delightful recipes like Maggoty Pumpkin Soup, found at Kaboose.com. Find other Halloween activities and craft ideas at Apples4theteacher.com.