Halloween pumpkinsAlthough more and more families are handing out toys and wholesome goodies on Halloween night these days,

the average child still can gather 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of treats (based on the nutrition labels on popular candies). To put that in perspective, a 100-pound child would have to walk for nearly 44 hours to burn those calories! I know that much junk at one time is not good for my kids – and it’s not really good for me since I’m totally guilty of candy stash raiding…shhhhh!  Here are some ways that you can make sure you and your kids have a healthier Halloween this year.

Fill up before trick-or-treating

It’s incredibly tempting for kids to eat candy as it gets tossed into their trick-or-treat bags – or to binge on their treats as soon as they get home. Give your kids a healthy meal before they go out so they aren’t tempted to eat the candy along the way. If kids are full before they go trick-or-treating, though, they will also eat fewer pieces of candy afterwards.

Trick-or-Treat and Exercise

Emphasize the active portion of Halloween this year. You can set a goal with your kids about how many houses or streets you will visit rather than driving between neighbourhoods. I’ve even heard that some families are planning to use pedometers to see how many steps they will take while collecting candy!

trick or treatKeep your favorite sweets, hide the rest

You know that old saying “out of sight, out of mind”? I find it to be especially helpful at Halloween time. As a general rule, encourage your kids to keep just enough of their favourite treats to have one or two pieces a day for a week or two. The rest can be donated or repurposed (more about that in a moment) or can go in the freezer so that it’s out of sight.

Trade Some Treats for Treasures

For the first time this year, we’re going to offer our kids the opportunity to swap some of their “treats for treasures”. For example, they’ll be able to trade 10 treats for a small toy, of 25 treats for a movie outing or a trip to a play place. I think this could be a great way to teach the kids about strategy and institute healthy eating habits at the same time. Think about the things that your children have been asking you for lately – can any of them be traded for a certain number of treats? If so, then perhaps this could be a strategy for you!

Repurpose Treats

One fun thing that you can do is use some collected candy to build a holiday/gingerbread house or for other craft projects (think candies in place of beads!). You can also save some for loot bags at an upcoming birthday celebration, or to give out with Valentine cards.  My twins happen to be born on Valentine’s Day, so last year we were able to use some of their candy for both purposes.

…Or give it away

When children get back home from trick-or-treating, you could have them make two piles: one for the candy they want to keep, another for the candy they will donate to a local food pantry or hospital.

If your children generally eat well all year long, then there is nothing wrong with letting them eat candy on Halloween night and a few mini pieces daily afterwards. Just keep in mind that there are simple ideas that you can implement this year to limit the loot without spoiling the fun.  Have a safe and happy Halloween!


Barb Prud'hommeAbout the Author:

Barb practices a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that she looks at how all of the areas of her client’s lives – activity level, eating habits, stress, relationships, and work – are interconnected. She then helps them work towards the results they desire, such as such as achieving an optimal weight, reducing cravings, incorporating more healthy foods into family meals, and minimizing fatigue, in realistic and enjoyable steps! Barb doesn’t believe in magic pills or fad diets, and has seen firsthand how dramatic results can be achieved through simple nutritional and lifestyle improvements!

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