Halloween may be many things but it’s not a health festival. There are threats out there both to kids and adults, but don’t be a zombie… a little awareness and prudence can banish the ghosts back to their graves. Here are some tips for kids and adults to make your holiday easier, safer and healthier…
Be calorie conscious
Weight management is always a challenge but more so during the holidays. The secret to success is calorie intake, which means choosing appropriate portions and remembering that extra bites add up. It takes only an additional 100 calories a day above what you need to lead to extra 10lb weight gain in a year.
Purchase Halloween candy the day of trick or treat to avoid temptation. Buy less than what you think you will need to avoid leftovers and purchase candies that you do not like, if you still have leftovers place them out of sight. If you really have a hard time with temptation choose to pass out non-candy treats such as bouncy balls, spider rings, pencils, erasers, bubbles or stickers.
Eat before you trick or treat
Serve a healthy family dinner before the fun begins, this way the kids will not be tempted to eat candy along the way. After trick or treating, offer a cup of warm, low fat milk with just one treat to ensure that blood sugar is stable before bedtime. Sign a contract between you and your children regarding when and how much candy all of you can eat.
Take a long walk around your neighborhood while trick or treating and enjoy all the decorations and customs that kids have on.
Practice portion control
After trick or treating sort the candy, inspect them and then set boundaries on an amount to be eaten over a period of many days. You can easily reach 100 calories with just one or two snack size treats. There are actually some candies that can satisfy your sweet tooth with fewer calories!
Always choose fun-size candy bars based on the least amount of fat and calories per serving. Better choices are, 3 Musketeers, 100 Grand Bar, Butterfinger bar, Milky Way bar, Raisinets, Starburst and York Peppermint Patties. Lastly always choose healthier dark chocolate versions. Most candy has a long shelf-life. Put the “stash” out of reach and limit candy to two pieces per day. Larger treats, such as full chocolate bars, can be cut into smaller pieces and frozen.
Around the home:
- Turn all porch and exterior house lights on so folks don’t trip on the steps leading to your house or sidewalk. It’s also a good indicator that your home is open for those little Trick-or-Treaters.
- Keep nervous or skittish house pets in a separate room so they don’t bark or jump on little children who come knocking on your door that night.
- Position your candy treats in a large bowl or cauldron that you can quickly reach when those ghosts and goblins come calling.
- Map out a safe neighborhood route for your children to follow. It’s even a good idea to walk it ahead of time with your kids.
- For children under 10 years old it’s a wise idea to have an adult accompany them during the trick-or-treating.
- Kids need to follow the rules the adults establish to ensure their safety. If you have any doubts about a child’s responsibility it’s best to accompany them when they trick-or-treat.
- Warn children never to go inside a home. All trick-or-treating should be done in full view of the porch.
- Reinforce traffic safety rules with your children including looking both ways before crossing a street and following all traffic signs. Also emphasize that they should walk and not run to avoid scrapped knees and bruised egos.
- Children should always stay with their designated groups at all times.
Costumes and Gear:
- Make sure costumes are easy to see in the dark. While black is often used to create a scary costume it isn’t visible to drivers unless there are reflective patches.
- Avoid costumes that are below the ankle to avoid tripping.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Check that the costumes are flame retardant.
- Be sure your children have flashlights to see the way safely from home to home and so drivers can spot them. I favor the type of flashlight with a cord that can hang from the wrist so they can have free hands if necessary.
- Be sure you have fully charge cell phones or walkie-talkies in case of an emergency. Test out the ring tone before the kids leave the house.
- These days you can even use your cell phone to your advantage. Use the geo locator to follow your children on their Halloween trek.
- Instead of masks, which can impair vision, try using face-makeup.
- Be sure to have a strong trick-or-treat bag to avoid rips and holes. We favor a pillowcase that can hold lots of loot and are quite sturdy.
Back at the Ranch:
- Before the kids go crazy checking out all of their sweet loot be sure to inspect all of their treats. Toss all candy that has opened wrappers or loose candy that isn’t packaged. Avoid any homemade treats in case of tampering.
- Limit the amount of candy they can consume that night. Too much sugar can create a hyper child that is too wired to have a good night’s sleep.
- To avoid candy overdose it’s a good idea to place the candy out of the reach of little (and big) fingers. Out of sight out of mind. Limit your kids to a couple of pieces after dinner in lieu of dessert.