By Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain
The spookiest month is upon us, and for many it is an exciting time filled with fun costumes, pumpkin carvings, and sugar-filled treats. As the childhood chant goes, “Trick or treat, give me something good to eat!” Candy is front-and-center during the Halloween season, and for many parents, the trick is to find healthier options children will enjoy. As a few pieces of candy on Halloween may be non-negotiable, finding fun and creative activities to provide healthier options that limit sugar intake can help ensure a healthier diet.
According to one study, Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy a year for Halloween. From candy corn to tootsie rolls, the variety of candy is endless during the holiday season, and there are a few candies you and your family should be cautious of due to their nutritional content. Fun-sized sweets such as Twix, Reese’s Cups and Peanut M&M’s are high in calories, sugar and total fat making these a few of the unhealthiest options during Halloween. Limiting your child’s intake with healthier treats can help you and your family get into the holiday spirit in a more nutritious way.
Halloween is a great time to get creative with decorations and food! Creating spooky arrangements with healthy ingredients is an easy and fun activity for you and your children to do together. There are many no-baking required recipes such as banana ghosts and witches’ broomsticks that will please any crowd. To make the ghosts, you’ll need bananas, mini chocolate chips, and chocolate-covered raisins to create the spooky arrangement. Cut the banana in half and use the mini chocolate chips for eyes and a chocolate-covered raisin for the mouth, and viola, you’re done! To compliment the sweetness of the bananas, witches’ broomsticks are just as fun and easy to make. You’ll need pretzel sticks, chives, and reduced-fat cheese sticks. For the broom, slice the cheese stick into thirds and fray one side to give it a broom effect. Insert a pretzel stick into the cheese to complete the broomstick and tie a chive around the top of the cheese. These are just a couple of ideas but, there are many easy, spooky recipes that make living a healthy lifestyle fun for all ages.
As many know, children receive large amounts of candy in a matter of hours while trick or treating. Letting children enjoy some of their candy without overindulging can be tricky for parents. A great way to encourage children to limit their sugar intake is to provide a buy-back system for the excess candy. The buy-back system implements an incentive for your children to exchange the candy for something special such as a toy or a play date. This provides a great way to ensure sugar intake is limited without making a fuss.
This spooky season, don’t let Halloween scare away you and your family’s healthy lifestyle. A little creativity and holiday spirit can help curb the impact of all the sugary treats!
Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain is a general family medicine practitioner at Family Medicine Associates of Texas in Carrollton. She thoroughly enjoys improving the health and lives of individuals ranging from young children to adulthood. For more information, call 972-394-8844, or visit texasmedicine.com.