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October 15, 2010

How to Make Halloween Less Scary, Nutritionally Speaking

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

Let's face it. Halloween marks the beginning of holiday eating that often doesn't quit until New Year's Day. 

The problem is that Halloween eating is not relegated to October 31st.  Your kids may attend Halloween parties leading up to the big night, which means lots of sugar and fat well before the trick-or-treating begins.

And then there are the mounds of candy to contend with. In my house, what's collected on Halloween night lingers until nearly December, often overlapping with Thanksgiving goodies.  Yikes!

And, let's not forget about how we moms feel compelled to buy Halloween goodies well in advance to be sure that we have enough for the kids who come to our door clamoring for candy and other treats.  Yeah, right!  If you're anything like me, you hide the candy from your family, and you're the one breaking into those bags of snack bars long before Halloween arrives.

In spite of the calorie overload that's bound to occur, it is possible to have a relatively healthier Halloween. Here are some tricks that I use.

• Resist the urge to purchase Halloween candy weeks before it's necessary.  You may end up eating more than you should, and not having enough to give out on Halloween night.

• Kids love candy, but they also like mini water bottles, mini boxes of California raisins or chocolate covered raisins, baked chips, popcorn, teddy grahams, sugar-free gum, portion-controlled snack cakes, and small bags of pretzels, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. 

• Feeling brave?  Pass out non-food items, such as sidewalk chalk, bubble mix, cool erasers, key chains, crayons, pencils, and stickers.  The other mothers will thank you. 

• Keep Halloween day low key. On Halloween day kids are so focused on dressing up and trick or treating that they can think of little else, but they need to eat dinner.  Protein-packed foods, 
such as meat, poultry, eggs, and milk, keep kids fuller for longer.  Eating dinner blunts the effects of the sugar from the candy that kids will be eating soon after the evening meal.

• Once the trick or treating is over, dole out Halloween candy in moderation. Candy should be consumed only after your child (and you!) has satisfied your daily requirements from the five good groups.  Encourage your child to enjoy a mini chocolate bar with a glass of Simply Smart Milk or Hood Milk to work in a serving of dairy.

• Stash the sweets.  Out of sight is often out of mind when it comes to goodies.  Consider freezing candy, or giving some of it away to the local senior center or food pantry.

What are your tricks for making Halloween healthier? Let us know!


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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