Trick or treat, give me something good to eat,” goes the childhood chant. But the trick for many parents is finding treats children will eat that don’t compromise their health.
A small amount of Halloween candy isn’t going to make or break a child’s weight or a parent’s dental bill. The problem is that for many families, it’s not just one night of candy but months’ worth of candy.
Excess calories play a role in children’s obesity and other health issues. While sugar and candy are only part of the problem, doing what you can to limit or avoid overload is worth the effort.
The suggestions that follow can help you make this holiday a bit healthier and safer.
Keep Them Safe
- Feed your children a meal or snack before they head out. That will help keep them from munching on the treats they collect as they go door-to-door. Tell your children it’s important that you inspect their goodies at home before they pop anything into their mouths.
- Discard all homemade candy or baked goods when your kids get home. Parents of toddlers should remove choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, and the like.
- Inspect commercially wrapped treats for indications of tampering. Look for an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers.
- Read ingredient labels with extra care if your child has food allergies.
Keep Them Healthy
Some treats are healthier than others. To focus on those:
- Read labels with an eye toward lower fat, calories, sugar, sodium, and trans fat totals.
- Consider alternatives to candy. Choices to consider include single servings of:
-Mini boxes of raisins
- Juice boxes
-Vanilla wafers or animal crackers
Tricks for Treats
Assuming you’re going to let your children keep some of the candy they collect these suggestions can help moderate their intake:
- Set a portion size for each child. Encourage them to take one piece of candy at each house and limit the size of their candy bag. Let them know how much they’re allowed to eat each day and when they can eat it.
- Implement a “buy back” program. Let your children choose several of their favorite candies to enjoy. Then “buy” the rest of the candy in exchange for a special sleepover, toy, book, or other treat. This allows your children to enjoy some of their candy without going overboard.
- When your child asks for some candy, pair it with something healthy like a banana, apple, or nuts.
Children love the excitement of dressing up and trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Helping them do so without overindulging on handfuls of unhealthy candy doesn’t have to get in the way of their fun.