By Chandani Kothari, Denton County Extension Agent – Family & Community Health
Halloween is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you have to be spooked by the sweets your child will be consuming. With some planning, preparation and creativity you can ensure that your child makes smart, healthy choices this Halloween.
Halloween is a great time to talk with kids about moderation and making smart eating choices. Plan in advance how much candy they will be allowed to take at each house, keep and eat. Explain to your child that they can enjoy a piece or two of the candies they keep over a week or two instead of indulging in them all at once. Rather than keeping all the candy, pick some of the personal favorites and donate the rest to a food bank, or repurpose it by using to decorate a holiday gingerbread house.
For those passing out treats for Halloween, offer something that provides health benefits and has nutritional value. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends mixing in healthy alternatives in your candy bowl that are full of whole grains, vitamins, 100 percent fruit juice, and fiber. Below are some examples you can find at your local grocery store:
- Whole-grain cheddar flavored crackers
- Fruit snacks made with 100 percent fruit with added vitamin C
- Fruit leathers made with 100 percent fruit
- Sugar-free gum
- Animal crackers made without trans fat
- Mini rice cereal bars
- Cereal bars made with real fruit
- Individual fruit cups
- Mini 100 percent fruit juice boxes
- Low-fat pudding
- Mini bags of pretzels
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also recommends avoiding snacks that contain nuts in case a child suffers from food allergies. In such circumstances, non-food treats such as pencils, erasers, stickers, or tattoos can act as a fun alternative.
For those partying with friends and family, serve healthy snacks dressed up in Halloween theme, offer water and unsweet tea instead of soda and sugary beverages. Dinner Tonight’s Butternut Squash Nachos are a perfect treat packed with vitamins and flavor. Incorporate some physical activity be hosting a zombie dance party, pumpkin toss or a three-legged monster race.
Whether you are partying with friends or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, with some creativity you can have a fun, spooky and a healthier Halloween!