Halloween is right around the corner, and that means soon your kids will be inundated with tons of the sweet stuff. That’s right, it’s candy season! Hoping to have a healthy Halloween this year, without being a total drag? We know, it’s tempting to let them go hog wild and eat as much candy as they want; it’s only once a year, right? But it’s no secret that scary things like childhood obesity, diabetes and dental decay are on the rise. Of course we want to protect our kids from those things!
Don’t worry, there’s a way to let your kids have fun AND have a healthy Halloween, and we’ve got the advice you need to tow the line. Here, we’ll hit you with tips for a healthy Halloween and even some extra safety tips for Halloween that you may not have thought of. And even if you have, a refresher never hurts, right? Below, some of our favorite safe and healthy Halloween tips:
Tip #1: Check your kids’ candy
Right off the bat, the first thing you should do when your child gets home with that coveted bag of loot is to go through and take out your favorites make sure everything is properly wrapped and nothing looks suspicious. Though the number of incidents of illegal tampering with Halloween candy are thankfully very low, other concerns such as homemade items (which aren’t subject to the same rigorous expiration and food preparation standards as commercial goods), unwrapped or partially unwrapped candy, and choking hazards do exist.
Tip #2: Allow your kids sugar in moderation
Next up, sugar! You knew we had to include sugar on our list of healthy Halloween tips, right? We know you’re disappointed, but consider this: A recent article in Time quotes Donna Arnett, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s School of Public Health as saying, “According to a recent report, a 100-pound child who consumed all of [their Halloween treats in one sitting] would have to walk for nearly 44 hours or play full-court basketball for 14.5 hours to burn those calories.” So, yeah. There’s a good chance that no matter how small your neighborhood, your kiddo’s going to bring home quite a stash of sugar. Sure, it’s a holiday and you don’t want to be a total kill-joy: we totally get it. But setting up a few boundaries can’t hurt when it comes to keeping kids healthy on Halloween. Here are a few we recommend:
Eat dinner before trick or treating. Naturally, if kids aren’t ravenous when they hit the streets, there’ll be less sampling along the way.
Allow a certain amount of candy each day. Parents concerned with their kids’ sugar intake can consider it on a day-to-day basis. Allow them a few pieces each day for a treat, but make an extra effort to provide them with healthy options during the rest of the day.
Consider donating some. The most popular donation option for Halloween candy is for military troops. Offload some sugar while teaching a valuable lesson in giving when you have your kids donate to organizations like Operation Gratitude.
Looking for some fun lower sugar Halloween treats to keep their minds off all the sugar? Here are some of our favorites:
Courtesy of Step Away from the Carbs, these cute Halloween cut-outs are actually made with whole wheat tortillas sprinkled with cinnamon.
From the Travel Cook Tell blog come these clever ghosts made from bananas with chocolate chip eyes. The best part is, your kids can make these themselves, then enjoy the “fruits” of their labor.
This fun recipe from Wheat Thins celebrates Day of the Dead with a beautiful platter of colorful fruit arranged to look frighteningly identical to a skeleton. The fruit and cream cheese make excellent toppers for Wheat Thins for a snack that has much less sugar than candy.
Tip #3: Be allergy aware
On Halloween, it’s important to consider food allergies of your own children as well as others. The best way to do this is to ensure that any candy or food you give away is clearly labeled in its original packaging. Allergy-aware parents and kids typically know what to stay away from, and this goes a long way in helping them steer clear of potential allergens.
And if you’ll be handing out allergen-free candy or non-candy items this Halloween, be sure to place a teal pumpkin on your porch to inform trick or treaters with allergies or other medical conditions that prevent them from accepting traditional candy.
Tip #4: Stay safe on the streets
There’s nothing like an accident to put a damper on an otherwise fun holiday. And Halloween, by its very nature, comes with some serious safety risks. In fact, the National Safety Council shares the sobering statistic that children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Clearly, it’s a good idea to take some safety measures before you let your kids hit the street this year. Here are some things you can do to keep your kids safe on the streets this Halloween:
Provide glow bracelets, glow sticks and other glowing items for them to wear at all times.
Require your kids to stay with an adult or, for older kids, a large group at all times. No running ahead.
Remind kids that they should cross only at crosswalks rather than zig-zagging across streets.
Forbid kids to trick or treat in areas where there are no streetlights.
Remind kids never to enter a stranger’s car or home for any reason whatsoever.
Tip #5: Stay warm
Last on our list of tips for a safe and healthy Halloween is staying warm. Consider yourself warned: this will be the LAST thing your kid is thinking about when it’s time to go trick or treating. And the FIRST thing she’ll complain about as soon as you’re no longer within walking distance of home. Because #parenthood. So it pays to plan ahead, since they’ll definitely refuse to wear a coat.
Some ways to ensure your kid stays warm despite that oh-so-short cheerleading skirt or sleeveless fairy costume is to have them wear tights or leggings. If you live in a super-cold climate, a skin-colored unitard like this one from Amazon could make a great base layer for a costume. This base layer is a great similar option for boys. Another fun way to stay warm? Carry hand warmers!
We hope all of our Opear family has a safe and happy Halloween. How do you plan to keep your kids safe and healthy this Halloween? Drop us a line in the comments!