Halloween is a time where ghosts, goblins and children in funny or scary costumes roam the streets in search of candy, lots and lots of candy! Trick-or-treaters are in luck since candy is looming practically everywhere. Did you know that Halloween has more than double the chocolate sales than Valentine’s Day? In total, $1.9 billion is spent on Halloween candy each year! That’s a lot of chocolate. Without a doubt, Halloween can be a very tempting time for children (and adults) to over-do it with small “fun size” treats at about 100 calories per serving.
On a positive note, Halloween is a great opportunity for parents to role model healthy behaviours and to talk about things like eating mindfully, cleaning teeth properly and staying safe in their neighbourhoods. Here are my top 5 tips for having a fun and healthy Halloween:
1. Have a game plan:
Before heading out, take a minute to talk about expectations. How long will trick-or-treating last? How much candy will be eaten when getting home? What will be the treats-per-day limit? Setting limits and expectations allows you and your children to stay within these pre-determined parameters.
2. Eat treats (only) with a meal:
Be a role model by sitting with your kids, distraction-free, and enjoy a treat after a meal. Having treats on a full belly prevents over-eating. A balanced meal may look like chicken fajitas with sautéed veggies or whole grain pizzas with your favourite vegetable and meat toppings. Treats will be secondary to eating three balanced meals a day.
3. Talk about foods:
When enjoying a treat, remember to bring awareness to the act of eating. Start by mentioning what you like about your food. Encourage your child to use descriptive words to express what they like about both their main course and their treat. Speaking about food brings mindfulness to the act of eating which builds self-control and positive relationship with food.
Speaking about food brings mindfulness to eating which builds self-control. Click To Tweet
4. Have a “Switch Witch”:
One solution to avoid having candy sitting around for months is to have a “Switch Witch” who comes in mid-November and trades remaining candy for something like a small toy or movie passes. This teaches your child to save candy in exchange for something else of value.
Have a “Switch Witch” who comes in mid-Nov and trades remaining candy for a small toy. Click To Tweet
5. Have Lots of Fun:
Halloween activities may include going to a haunted house, walking through pumpkin patches, getting creative with costume design or making homemade apple pie or cider with the family. Food is only part of the fun Halloween experience.
Halloween doesn’t have to be a “health pitfall” but instead can be a time to teach your child life-long skills about moderation, healthy eating and how to be a mindful eater. Happy Halloween!
More tips here from Dietitians, Dentists and Paediatricians.