Moderation during Halloween: Tips and tricks

You want to enjoy Halloween, but you are worried about your child’s total sweet intake? Try these ideas to limit their candy and sweet consumption.

We all have our favorite Halloween memories: Trick-or-treating with friends, being scared at that particular house in the neighborhood, carving the best pumpkin design, as well as the pile of candy you worked hard to collect all night.

So what to do with all the candy? We know we need to limit our intake and our children’s intake of candy. Sweets provide empty calories and devoid any nutritional value. But how do you balance their desire to eat it, with their overall health? Luckily, there are several strategies you can implement to strike a balance with your children while also avoiding any “tricks” from your child!

Take time to share with your children the idea of moderation. Michigan State University Extension recommends teaching children the idea of limiting sweet and sugary treats as foods to indulge in occasionally. A fun way to teach this is the idea of GO, SLOW and WHOA foods. GO foods are foods that should be eaten the most. Examples include fruits, vegetables, fat-free dairy or whole grains and lean proteins. These foods are nutrient dense and low in fat and sugar. SLOW foods are slightly higher in fat, added sugar and calories. SLOW foods should be eaten sometimes, or less often. Examples of SLOW foods are vegetables with added fat or sauces, non-whole grain breads and higher fat proteins. WHOA foods are once in a while foods, given they are higher in calories. These types of foods include doughnuts, fried vegetables and high fat proteins. Teaching moderation will help to better balance their caloric food intake and not cause them to overindulge as a result never having treats. This type of lifestyle balance will help them to form positive habits that will serve them for their whole lives.

Check with your local dentist or physician offices for candy buy-back opportunities. These offices often act as a clearing house for Operation Shoebox or Operation Gratitude which ships care packages to service members overseas. My children’s pediatrician buys back candy at one-dollar per pound and then sends it to one of these organizations for redistribution to the military.

Swap out the candy for a fun, family activity! Have your child pick an activity that they would like to do and in trade, have them swap out a majority of their candy. Pick something with a physical activity component for an added bonus. Chose a game of laser tag, skiing, running around a corn maze – or whatever your family likes to do.

Enjoy all the holiday traditions your family enjoys and celebrate your little witch or goblin’s success running all over the neighborhood. But with a bit of “trickery” yourself, you can help teach them healthy, lifelong habits.

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