09 Oct 8 Tricks to Keep Kids Healthy this Halloween
Sweets – chocolate – candy – oh my! Halloween is around the corner, and kids are already gearing up to collect their treats. Healthy-minded parents, however, know that too much sugar can be harmful.
How does a conscientious caregiver help their child overcome the dangers of sugar temptation while still allowing them to enjoy the spirit of the holiday? The answer: by making sensible substitutions and smart choices. The following list describes eight tips to help your kids enjoy a healthier Halloween.
Toys for Treats
Instead of filling your bowl to the brim with candy, try adding toys to the mix. Some good substitutes include glow sticks, stickers, fake tattoos, bouncy balls, glow-in-the-dark fangs, and wiki stix. This trick gives trick-or-treaters a fun break from sugar and ensures that there won’t be an excessive amount of tempting candy left over after Halloween—also, it offers kids with food allergies a safe, healthy alternative to candy!
Dish out Snacks
Another smart substitute is healthy snacks. Instead of chocolate or suckers, dish out animal crackers, pretzels, apples, tangerines, fruit leathers, trail mix, cereal, granola bars, or sugar-free hot chocolate packets.
To make these snacks enticing to kids, dress them up in spooky, festive packaging. For example, freeze frozen yogurt in small paper cups and place them in a cooler with dry ice to create a smoky effect that is likely to get kids excited. Also, try taking cheddar cheese popcorn balls, place them in plastic, and draw a smiley face on the surface to create festive pumpkin heads that are sure to amp up the fun (without the sugar).
Walk the Route
Walking from house to house instead of driving is a great way to keep kids moving on Halloween. To further encourage activity, have your trick or treaters wear pedometers or activity meters and start a friendly competition to see who can be the most active while collecting candy.
Eat Before Treats
Eating a healthy dinner before heading out on Halloween will keep kids from snacking on sugar while they trick-or-treat. A full stomach will also make overindulging after they return home much less likely.
Cut down on post-Halloween candy binges by inviting your kids to leave some of their treats for the Switch Witch, who collects them and leaves a present in exchange. A good system might be trading in five pieces of candy for a small item, such as playing cards, twenty-five pieces for a medium-sized item, such as a gift card, and one hundred pieces for a large item such as tickets to a basketball game.
Fun not Food
Avoid sugar rushes by taking the focus off candy-filled Halloween parties and instead encouraging participation in Halloween-themed activities. Some great games include pumpkin bowling (i.e., knocking over a set of plastic bowling pins with a pumpkin), witch hat ring toss (i.e., tossing rings around a witch’s hat), and pumpkin decorating. These activities are a great way to get kids focused on activity and movement instead of candy and sugar.
Upon returning from trick-or-treating, get your kids to make two piles of candy: one for the candy they will keep and another to be given to those less fortunate. Take the second pile and donate the candy to a local senior citizens home, the Ronald McDonald House, a children’s hospital or the local food pantry. Donating a portion of your kids’ candy will keep them from eating it and will ensure that the needy are able to receive Halloween treats.
Make a dent in your kids’ candy stash by encouraging participation in a house-building activity that uses treats as the raw material for a holiday house. Peppermints become windows, licorice becomes sidewalks and gumdrops are perfect for roof tiles. This activity takes the focus off candy and places it firmly on a fun activity that parents and children can do together. Best of all, kids are playing with sugar instead of consuming it.
These 8 tricks are a great way to ensure that your kids stay healthy and active this Halloween, while also experiencing the spirit and fun of the holiday!