Tricks for enjoying Halloween treats in a healthy way
The real trick to Halloween is indulging in your favorite sweet treats without succumbing to the inevitable upset stomach or dealing with an off-the-wall kid on a sugar high.
When I was a kid, I was an uber-competitive, self-proclaimed professional trick-or-treater. You know, the kid with the pillowcase sprinting from house to house collecting as much sugary loot as my hands and sack could hold? That was me!
These days, as a dietitian and mom to two-and-a-half-year-old, chocolate loving Hudson, I see things a little differently. Now I believe you can enjoy the holiday and indulge in your favorite sweets, but easily prevent over doing it.
Here are my tricks for enjoying Halloween treats in a healthy, moderate way:
Fuel up: Make sure the whole family has a healthy meal prior to trick-or-treating. The more satisfied you are the less likely you will be to over-indulge on the sweet stuff. Be sure to include lots of veggies, whole grains and lean protein for lasting fullness.
Start Small: Head out with a smaller sized Halloween Bag/Pumpkin — definitely avoid the urge to use a pillow case, ha! — and when it’s full, it’s full. Simple as that!
Take one: Many houses offer the generous option of taking several pieces of candy — or if kids are lucky, even a handful! Allow your kids to choose one piece per stop to prevent excess.
Pick favorites: Nothing beats the moment when you get home, dump your loot, and eye it up with pride. This is a great time to have you kids make a "favorites pile" (adults can join in the fun, too).
Mindfully munch: The excitement of Halloween night can lead to mindless eating for both kids and adults. Set limits when it comes to how many pieces of candy are “ok” for consumption. You can even attach a number of pieces to the piles like "we all get to pick our favorite 20 pieces" — kids first of course!
Snack Packs: Take the "favorites pile" and separate it into snack size bags (think 1-2 pieces) for daily consumption and decide how many snack bags your kids can consume each day. Don’t forget to be a role model and stick with the rules you give you children.
Healthy pairings: Encourage your kids to pair their "snack pack" with a healthy option like a glass of milk, peanut butter on crackers, a piece of fruit or some raw veggies with hummus. You’ll want to have them eat the healthy snack first which will help to fill them up and prevent them from overindulging in the sweet treat.
Treats for Toys: Adopt the idea of a "pumpkin fairy" and allow your kids to trade treats for toys. You can really get creative with this and offer different sized gifts based on the amount of candy returned. This can be as simple as stickers and bubbles, or as elaborate as legos and barbies, or even a cash exchange. You choose what works best for your child.
How do you set limits on Halloween indulgence? Tell us in the comments!
Katie Cavuto MS, RD is a registered dietitian and trained chef. She is the president of Healthy Bites, a company offering local and national culinary nutrition services. Katie is also the consulting dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies, and a regular contributor on local and national TV and radio as an expert in her field. To learn more about Katie, check her website at healthybitesdelivery.com.