If you’re trying to lead a healthy life, Halloween can be a tricky time of year.
Temptation seems to be lurking everywhere. Since the end of summer, store shelves have been teeming with enticing bite-sized treats of every taste, colour and texture imaginable.
For parents and caregivers, it’s important to help kids build good habits early on so that they can manage their own eating habits when they’re older.
Halloween can make that challenging. For many people, the celebration is a free-for-all gorge of candy, chocolate and fat, with the indulging lasting long after the jack o’ lanterns go out.
But there are some tricks you can keep in mind to keep things healthy while still having fun. (Bonus: scroll down to download nine classic jack o’ lantern stencils!)
Set the pace
If you have your own sweet-tooth cravings to manage, modelling good behaviours can be difficult. To avoid dipping into your Halloween stash before the big night, buy it at the last minute. If chips are your weakness, get something else. You’ll be less tempted to sample the goodies in between knocks on the door (hand out three, eat one…it can get out of hand quickly).
Get the good stuff
Don’t buy more treats than you’ll need. If you’re new to the neighbourhood, ask around to find out how many trick-or-treaters usually visit. Don’t buy a mega pack of mini chocolate bars if you’ll only be getting 10 kids.
Throw out or give away any leftovers (office candy, anyone?). Don’t keep it around the house to tempt you or your family members. Consider handing out healthier goodies, such as packages of trail mix, raisins or pretzels.
You don’t have to give out food, either: stickers, small games or toys, temporary tattoos and crayons are fun swaps for the usual fare. Parents of children with food allergies will thank you.
Focus on the fun
Don’t make candy the focus of Halloween. Instead, emphasize the fun of designing a great costume, transforming the house with spooky decorations, going out trick-or-treating and carving cool jack-o’-lanterns (Scroll down to download fun pumpkin stencils!).
Enjoy the Halloween events going on in your community, such as haunted houses and costume parties. Host your own scary movie night or Halloween party where you can serve your own creative (and healthy) Halloween-inspired recipes.
Keep it safe
With a little planning, a child with food allergies can also enjoy Halloween. Before you head out trick-or-treating, agree on some rules: for example, no eating treats until you’ve checked the labels.
Take along safe treats your child can eat on the road (and their EpiPen, too). You may decide to exchange all of the collected loot for safe treats. Some families do a “switch witch” or “great pumpkin” overnight to swap out the candy for a gift.
Out of reach, out of mind
On Halloween night, serve a healthy meal so your kids aren’t hungry when the candy starts coming in. It’s a good time to chat with your kids about how you’ll be handling the haul.
If your kids are saving up for a special item, you may want to start a family buy-back for the candy – give your kids a set amount for each piece (or pound) of candy. Check with your dentist, too – at this time of year, some dental offices host candy buy-back events for charity.
All in moderation
If parting with the Halloween candy is not an option for your kids, keep an eye on how much of if they eat each day. Don’t store it in their bedrooms or within easy reach in the kitchen.
Start a dessert bucket, where they can pick one or two pieces each night after supper, providing they brush their teeth afterwards. Taking a thoughtful, measured approach will instil in kids the idea of eating in moderation and also help reinforce dental care. While Halloween may be far from healthy, it’s a great time to teach kids habits they can use the rest of the year.
Click here to download nine classic jack-o’-lantern stencils
Want more information on healthy living and health-care delivery sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter and get all of our content first!