Ding dong…Trick or treat! Word travels quickly if you are the house in the neighborhood handing out pretzels and apples on Halloween night, unless, of course, they are coated with a thick layer of caramel and chocolate. So you won’t be the most popular person on the block but you will be the hero against childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate. Nearly one in three children are overweight or obese in the United States. This year Americans will spend close to $2 billion on Halloween candy and approximately 10 percent of the nation’s medical costs on obesity related diseases.
While kids love to dress in costumes, parents dread the thought of all the leftover candy and tremendous amounts of calories that accompany the day. It’s alright to indulge in treats, just don’t forget to practice moderation. Halloween is the perfect time of year to begin practicing balance and mindfulness in when it comes to eating. Halloween kicks off the holiday season with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and then Valentine’s Day just around the corner.
When trick or treaters ring your doorbell, what will you offer? This year try nutritious foods, fun non-food items, and items that encourage activity.
Be Calorie Conscious
Weight management is always a challenge but more so during the holidays. The secret to success is calorie intake, which means choosing appropriate portions and remembering that extra bites add up. It takes only an additional 100 calories a day above what you need to lead to extra 10lb weight gain in a year.
Purchase Halloween candy the day of Halloween to avoid temptation. Buy less than what you think you will need to avoid leftovers and purchase candies that you do not like, if you still have leftovers, place them out of sight. If you really have a hard time with temptation choose to pass out non-candy treats such as bouncy balls, spider rings, pencils, erasers, bubbles or stickers.
Eat Before You Trick or Treat
Serve a healthy family dinner before the fun begins, this way the kids will not be tempted to eat candy along the way. After trick or treating, offer a cup of warm, low fat milk with just one treat to ensure that blood sugar is stable before bedtime. Sign a contract between you and your children regarding when and how much candy all of you can eat.
Take a long walk around your neighborhood while trick or treating and enjoy all the decorations and costumes that kids have on.
Practice Portion Control
After trick or treating sort the candy, inspect them and then set boundaries on an amount to be eaten over a period of many days. You can easily reach 100 calories with just one or two snack size treats. There are actually some candies that can satisfy your sweet tooth with fewer calories!
Always choose fun size candy bars based on the least amount of fat and calories per serving. Better choices are, 3 Musketeers, 100 Grand Bar, Butterfinger bar, Milky Way bar, Raisinets, Starburst and York Peppermint Patties. Lastly always choose healthier dark chocolate versions. Most candy has a long shelf-life. Put the “stash” out of reach and limit candy to two pieces per day or better yet, bring the candy to work to avoid any temptation!