Nutritionist Elesha Kelleher shares tips on making better choices for your kids
Many children look forward to an endless candy splurge on one of the most fun days of the year. Halloween is a festive and fun night, but setting a few boundaries will help avoid complete sugar overload.
A few tips for a healthier Halloween:
- Don’t let kids trick or treat on an empty stomach. Be sure to offer them a nutritious dinner before heading out or else dinner will end up being 100 plus grams of sugar.
- Let children enjoy Halloween. Many will consume a lot more candy than any other time of year, so it’s OK to let them have fun. However, you can liberally set a limit on how much and how many pieces of candy they can eat. This will help prevent stomach aches, hyperactive behavior and inability to sleep.
- If you’re looking for healthier alternatives to candy to serve at your own house, there are some options: Dollar stores usually sell large bags of small plastic toys you can pass out. This will probably be a hit with most kids since they will already be getting so much candy, plus they will have something to play with after Halloween – also try stickers, balloons, crayons; 100 calorie packs of cocoa almonds (delicious); Snackwell’s peanut butter or chocolate bars (contain eight grams of protein); and sugarless gum.
- Ration out the candy for a few days following Halloween. After a week or so, give away or donate the rest. They will most likely forget about it – out of sight, out of mind.
- When you are trying to make the healthier candy selections, choose ones that at least contain a little protein. I would much rather see kids indulge in Snickers, Peanut M&M’s or any chocolate candy with nuts. At least the nuts will provide a little nutritional value with protein and a little healthy fat. Dark chocolate is an added bonus – it packs healthful antioxidants and the rich taste typically will stop you from overdoing it. These options will help to fill them up as opposed to candies that are simply sugar and nothing else. This surprises most because often those choices are lower in calories and are usually fat-free. However, they only provide pure sugar with no other nutrients. A handful or two of some sweets can give you about 200 empty, sugar calories. Plus, the sugar surge spikes blood sugar levels followed by a drastic drop, leaving you feeling fatigued and usually hungry for more.
- Reach for the small or bite-sized bars of chocolate, usually about 100 calories.
- Halloween can present an opportunity for parents to help kids find a balance between a very fun, traditional activity and a healthy lifestyle.
You’ve got questions? Our nutritionist, Elesha Kelleher, LDN, RD, MPH has the answers. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org