For many adults Halloween is the time of year when snacking and healthy eating choices begin to fall to the wayside and bad habits continue on from now until New Years. For kids it can be the same, with all the attention on Fun Size candy bars and other sugary treats. What are we to do? As I sat down to write this blog post, I was also reading through some of my favorite colleagues websites, and found a piece written by Lisa Franzen-Castle at UNL that was just too good to not share. SO….here is her piece on how to survive all the sweet temptations of this upcoming holiday. My personal favorite is to hand out Jump Ropes instead of candy to your little trick-or-treaters!
October: Have a Healthier Halloween
By: Lisa Franzen-Castle, RD, PhD, Nutrition Specialist; UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Author E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For many, autumn events like Halloween are a time to wear costumes, go trick-or-treating, go to parties with friends, and eat sweet treats. Celebrations such as Halloween are a chance to not only have fun, but also provide healthy snack options and be physically active with friends and family. Below are tips to make your Halloween healthier for trick-or-treaters and party guests.
Tips for a Healthier Halloween:
Hand out healthier treats.
- Give out healthier treats for trick-or-treaters and party guests this year. The calories in all those bite-size treats can add up quickly. There are lots of options when it comes to healthier food treats.
- Examples include cereal bars, packages of dried fruit, baked pretzels, trail mix, animal crackers, mini boxes of raisins, graham crackers, goldfish crackers, sugar-free gum or hard candy, snack pack pudding, applesauce, sugar-free hot chocolate or apple cider packets, individual juice boxes (100% juice), and fig cookies.
Try out non-food treats.
- If you want to steer away from handing out food this year, children will also enjoy non-food treats, such as things you would put in birthday goodie bags. Some non-food items are suitable for all ages, but small items should be limited to kids over age three.
- Examples include small toys, pocket sized games, plastic costume jewelry, glow sticks, tiny decks of cards, pencils, pencil toppers, fancy erasers, stickers (including reflective safety stickers), bookmarks, bottles of bubbles, whistles, coloring books, and crayons.
Promote physical activity.
Use party games and trick-or-treat time as a way to fit in 60 minutes of physical activity for kids. You can encourage and pump up the enthusiasm for being more active by providing small and inexpensive toys that promote activity.
Items could include a bouncy ball, jump rope, side-walk chalk for a game of hopscotch or foursquare, or a beanbag for hacky sack.
Moderation is key.
- Halloween is a great time to discuss and demonstrate the importance of moderation. Keep track of children’s candy so they don’t go overboard in one sitting. Let them pick out a few treats on Halloween night and then let them have a few pieces each day after that.
- Show kids treats can fit into a healthy eating plan in small amounts. Combine a treat, such as fun-size candy, with a healthy snack like a piece of fruit. Be sure they eat the fruit first so they don’t fill up on the candy.
Survive sweet treats at work.
- snack or fun-size candies are small and easy to eat, but eating several throughout the day can add up to extra calories. Keep the wrappers where you can see them so they don’t accidentally pile up.
- If you can’t just eat a few treats at work, start bringing healthier alternatives with you. Stock your snack bag or desk drawer with fruit cups, dried fruit, lightly sweetened whole grain cereal, graham crackers, low-fat pudding cups, popcorn, or granola bars.
- Remember that friends or co-workers may also be struggling to stay motivated to make healthy changes. Lean on each other and be there when others need encouragement. This year, make an effort to bring healthier treat options to work.
Make your Halloween season healthier this year by getting plenty of physical activity to balance food intake and help children choose wisely and eat their treats in moderation. Help kids and yourself enjoy Halloween without overindulging. Check out food.unl.edu for more food, nutrition, and health information.
- Healthy Halloween Foods with Popcorn. Get directions for making “Bony Fingers,” “Halloween Party Popcorn,” and “Ghosts.” http://food.unl.edu/web/fnh/healthy-halloween- party
- Can You Eat Your Jack-o-lantern Pumpkin? Can you use a pumpkin for BOTH a jack-o- lantern AND for eating? Check out “how-to-do- it information from the University of Illinois Extension. http://urbanext.illinois.edu/pumpkins/selection.c fm
- Halloween Health and Safety Tips.
Find tips on how to help make Halloween festivities fun and safe for trick-or-treaters and party guests from the CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/
Drying and Roasting Pumpkin Seeds. Many people are interested in how to roast pumpkin seeds during fall months. Here are tips from Florida Cooperative Extension. http://food.unl.edu/web/fnh/pumpkin-seeds- roast
Halloween Safety: Tips for Trick-or- Treaters. Make Halloween safety part of your holiday fun. Start with these practical Halloween safety tips. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/halloween- safety/CC00072
1. Clemson Cooperative Extension. October 2007. Healthy Halloween Treats. HGIC 4112. Accessed at: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/pdf/hg ic4112.pdf. Accessed on: 09/23/2011.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2009. Halloween Health and Safety Tips. Family Health. Accessed at: http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/index.htm Accessed on: 09/23/2011.
Updated: September 2011