With Halloween around the corner, parents may be getting scared—not by witches and ghosts but by the thought of all the sugar and fat their children bring home in trick-or-treat bags. Consider that about 15 percent of children and adolescents were overweight in 2000, and about the same number were at risk for being overweight, according to the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, and suddenly Halloween seems more frightful than ever. Yet there are ways around these sugary demons. Nelda Mercer, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in Ann Arbor, Michigan, offers some suggestions to help your children have a happy and healthy Halloween.
Help kids learn about moderation and portion control during this holiday. The bite-sized candies passed out at Halloween are perfect for this lesson. Let them have one or two after dinner each night instead of gorging on the whole bag at once.
Allow a little indulgence. Forbidding any food will encourage your child to crave it and seek it out at a friend’s or relative’s house. Halloween is only once a year, so indulging a bit won’t undo a healthful diet.
Supplement chocolate and sugar with healthier choices, such as cereal bars, trail mix, raisins, and fruit leathers. Remember that any sugar is damaging to teeth, even the sugar found in fruit.
Teach your child about sharing. Let them keep some of the candy they received and then take them to visit a nursing home, foster home, or homeless shelter, and deposit the rest of the candy there.