No matter your diet preferences, Halloween typically kicks off the holiday overeating fest that lasts until those New Year’s resolutions are declared. Our kids may not be diet-conscious like us adults, but it is never too early to teach them the benefits of moderation, especially when it comes to Halloween candy. Here are a few kid-friendly tips to limit your children’s sugar intake, from Sarah Stone, director of operations at MindStream Academy, a co-ed health and wellness boarding school for teens in South Carolina.
Tips to cut down on Halloween candy
Limiting candy this Halloween isn’t about letting your kids trick or treat then hide their candy as soon as they get home. “One of the most important things to keep in mind is that keeping Halloween healthy can’t be about deprivation,” says Stone. “If you keep your kids from candy altogether or are too tight-fisted when handing it out, your children’s desire to gobble it up will only intensify. It’s the classic forbidden fruit principle. Instead, make Halloween about enjoying treats in moderation. Try to achieve a balance between candy, healthy foods, and activity.”
1. Infuse Halloween with some action
Leading an active lifestyle is at the heart of MindStream’s success formula. And while it’s a good idea to remain active year-round, place a special emphasis on exercise during the weeks leading up to Halloween in order to prepare for the extra calories that are on the horizon.
2. Fuel up for trick-or-treating
In the midst of all of the costume-donning, face-painting hustle and bustle, don’t forget to eat dinner—a healthy one. You might consider pre-planning a crock-pot roast or long-simmering soup that will be ready to eat when you need it so that you won’t have to divide your energy between the stove and your little ghost’s sheets. If your kids feel full while collecting candy, they’ll be less likely to overindulge.
3. Don’t hold onto leftover candy
Whether you decide to welcome the Great Pumpkin or not, it’s not a good idea to let your kids hang onto their candy weeks after trick-or-treating is over. Limit candy to one piece a day, share candy with those who don’t have any, or throw it away to avoid the candy-eating temptation or struggles with your kids.
4. Buy treats in a timely manner
Unless you want to be known as a Halloween Grinch, you probably won’t be able to get away with not buying any seasonal treats—so time your shopping trip well. In other words, avoid buying candy too early or too late. Buy too early and you’ll be eating candy every day leading up to Halloween. Buy too late and you’ll be purchasing “bargain candy” in greater amounts and putting yourself and your kids at risk of eating candy on past the haunted holiday.
5. Attend an alternative bash
Many communities offer alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, such as parties, fall festivals, or “trunk-or-treats.” If there’s nothing in your area, consider throwing your own bash, perhaps with the help of your friends and neighbors. You can set up Halloween-themed games, offer pumpkin-carving, bob for apples, and hold costume contests, for example. And at the end of the night, you can provide all of the attendees with treat bags.