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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

8 Ways to Cut Back on Candy this Halloween

Too much candy is something we all think about at Halloween. I'm running an article that was sent to me by the MindStream Academy, a boarding school for teens and tweens who want to focus on healthy living, weight loss and other issues. (And read to the bottom, because there a few links about what other people do with the candy).

The Trick to Fewer Treats: 
Eight Ways for Cutting Back on the Candy This Halloween
We’re well into October, which means that a gaggle of witches, ghosts, vampires, and more are about to descend on neighborhoods around the country. For kids, Halloween is a dream come true: the chance to dress up, stay out late, and—best of all—fill their bellies with candy. For parents, though, Halloween can seem like more of a trick than a treat. In the age of childhood obesity, it’s already a huge struggle to get our kids to live healthy lives; the last thing we need is to compete with a bag bursting with candy bars.
 Relax—you don’t have to resign yourself to weeks of sticky fingers and chocolaty smudges as your children gorge on the wrong kinds of food. According to Sarah Stone, your family can enjoy this holiday without consuming ghoulish amounts of calories.
“If you’re the parent of an overweight child or adolescent—or even if you’re just interested in reducing the amount of sugar your kids consume—it’s natural to worry about Halloween candy and the effect it will have on your child,” says Stone, director of operations at MindStream Academy.
“One of the most important things to keep in mind is that keeping Halloween healthy can’t be about deprivation,” she says. “If you keep your kids from candy altogether or are too tight-fisted when handing it out, your children’s desire to gobble it up will only intensify. Instead, make Halloween about enjoying treats in moderation.”

Here are eight tips to take the focus off of junk food:

1. Infuse Halloween with some action. Talk with your kids about how you can offset increased calorie consumption so that they make the connection. And when the witching hour itself arrives, walk instead of ride while trick-or-treating. Point out to your kids that being active doesn’t have to be “work”—in fact, it can be freakishly fun. Your kids can race from house to house, play flashlight tag while trick-or-treating, etc. (Make sure to wear tennis shoes!) And as the navigator, you can plan out a route with widely spaced houses in order to get in more walking and less candy.

“After the trick-or-treating buzz has faded, make it a rule that no one gets to consume candy calories without first burning them,” suggests Stone. “In order to eat a leftover treat, your kids will first have to play outside or participate in some other type of physical activity. This is a great time for some family bonding time too—play a game of kickball together or get everyone rounded up for a lap or two around the neighborhood.”
2. Fuel up for trick-or-treating. In the midst of all of the costume-donning, face-painting hustle and bustle, don’t forget to eat dinner—a healthy one. You might consider pre-planning a crock-pot roast or long-simmering soup that will be ready to eat when you need it so that you won’t have to divide your energy between the stove and your little ghost’s sheets. If your kids feel full while collecting candy, they’ll be less likely to overindulge.
Allow them one or two small treats during or after trick-or-treating (after inspecting them for safety, of course!), and save the rest for later.”

3. Play up dress-up. As Halloween approaches—and during the evening of October 31st itself—build your kids’ excitement around things other than candy; namely, their costumes! At least within your own house, you can make Halloween a holiday about dressing up, not about amassing a collection of candy. Let your children play an active role in choosing what they want to be, and if possible, spend time together working on a homemade costume. Remind them how much fun it will be to pretend that they’re saving the world, just like their favorite action hero, for example.
“When you focus on the dress-up aspect of Halloween, that’s what your child will be most likely to look forward to—not candy,” points out Stone. 
4. Welcome the Great Pumpkin. We’ve all heard of the Great Pumpkin. According to Linus van Pelt from the beloved comic strip Peanuts, the Great Pumpkin rises from the “most sincere” pumpkin patch on Halloween night, then flies around the globe delivering toys to good boys and girls. You can easily make this holiday figure a part of your family’s tradition and cut down on candy consumption in the process.
First, allow your kids to pick a few things from their bags after they get home from trick-or-treating. Then put the rest of the candy out for the Great Pumpkin. While your children sleep, he will visit your home and trade the candy for a game or toy they’ve been wanting.
“For older kids or teens, consider a ‘Great Pumpkin Prize List’ instead of a visit by the mythical gourd himself,” suggests Stone. “You can list several small items your child might want and assign a value to each. For example, turning in ten pieces of candy might earn a $5 iTunes gift card, and five pieces might be traded for an evening of TV privileges. Your children are still satisfied, and you can rest easy knowing that the candy is not going into their bellies.”
5. Don’t hold onto leftover candy. Whether you decide to welcome the Great Pumpkin or not, it’s not a good idea to let your kids hang onto their candy weeks after trick-or-treating is over. 
• Consider letting your children have a few pieces of candy each night until it’s gone, as opposed to limiting them to one piece a day. 
• It might seem wasteful, but it’s better to throw leftover candy away than to let it sit around as a temptation, or to struggle with your children each night about how much they’re allowed to eat.
• Take the leftover candy that your kids don’t choose to work or to other adult activities if you don’t want to waste it by throwing it away.
• Share leftover candy with the less fortunate. Your kids might donate treats to a local soup kitchen, for example, or include it in a Christmas box for a disadvantaged child. (The winter holidays might seem far away, but many charitable organizations begin collecting in November!)
6. Buy treats in a timely manner. Unless you want to be known as a Halloween Grinch, you probably won’t be able to get away with not buying any seasonal treats—so time your shopping trip well. In other words, avoid buying candy too early or too late.

7. Attend an alternative bash. Many communities offer alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, such as parties, fall festivals, or “trunk-or-treats.” If there’s nothing in your area, consider throwing your own bash, perhaps with the help of your friends and neighbors. You can set up Halloween-themed games, offer pumpkin-carving, bob for apples, and hold costume contests, for example. And at the end of the night, you can provide all of the attendees with treat bags.
8. Hand out healthy food. If a member of your family will be staying home to hand out your own treats to roving ghouls and goblins, pick a healthy option—or one that’s non-edible. Good choices include granola bars, trail mix, raisins, pretzel snack bags, Halloween pencils, key chains, stickers, etc.

What do others do with the candy?
What one mom is doing for Halloween, because her daughter turns from Jekyll to Hyde (or is it the reverse?) on sugar.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. What a unique receipe for popcorn. I really appreciate all your healthy ideas for children's Halloween treates, parties etc.