It’s that time of year again – time for ghosties and ghoulies, fright and fun, tricks and treats! Halloween is a TON of fun, but it’s easy for kids (and parents!) to overindulge. Walking door-to-door for trick or treating can be great exercise – but the mountains of candy as a result of the kiddos labor can be, well, downright FRIGHTFUL. For reference, it takes about 15 minutes to swimming laps to burn off the calories of ONE Reese Peanut Butter Cup. YIKES!
That’s not the say that we shouldn’t let the kids indulge a little bit! Halloween is a great time to teach the importance of moderation and making healthy choices. According to Garry Sigman, MD, director of the pediatric weight management program at Loyola University Health System and a professor in the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, “Halloween is great fun for kids with all the spooky decorations, costumes, and tasty treats. It also can be seen as a challenge for health-conscious parents,” Sigman says. “This doesn’t have to be the case. With a little bit of planning it can be a great time to model and help kids understand the importance of moderation and balance, two keys to healthy behavior.”
Thankfully, Dr. Sigman gives some advice for teaching kids about balance:
• Emphasize the non-food related aspects of the holiday, such as parties, decorations, spooky activities, costume contests, and games.
• Serve a healthy meal or snack before trick-or-treating, when sorting through the candy and every time you break out leftover candy.
• Make it a “moving” holiday to help balance the eating. Have a costume parade, a monster dance party, play games like costume tag or bobbing for apples. This will also leave less time for collecting candy.
He also gives come tips for teaching kids about moderation:
• Limit the size of the trick-or-treat bag for going door-to-door. Stay away from the pillow case and go for a small gift bag.
• Choose to hand out fun-size candies instead of full-size bars to help them understand portion control.
• Only keep a small amount of the candy out and put the rest in the freezer. This shows how you can still enjoy a special treat without going overboard. You are in control of the candy, the candy isn’t in control of you.
• Show kids that sometimes enough is enough by getting rid of extra candy. Many schools offer “Treats for Troops” where kids can donate their leftover candy, which is a great opportunity to teach children about helping others.
Source: Loyola University Health System
Hope everyone has a SAFE and FUN Halloween!