Healthy Hallowe’en – What’s a parent to do?

Hallowe’en – an entire day, even week, devoted to collecting candy. If you’re a parent trying to get your kid to eat healthfully, this holiday can be one of the most challenging. What’s a parent to do? Here are some ideas from the naturopathic parents:

  • Don’t take the fun out of it. Emphasize other aspects of the holiday – the costume, the parties, a parade, the decorations, pumpkin carving. You can even get your kids out in nature, picking pumpkins and apples, playing in the leaves, and so forth.
  • Make sure they have a hearty, healthy dinner before trick or treating, with lots of protein and healthy fats and vegetables, and as few simple carbohydrates as possible (this is not the night for pasta or pizza) – try burgers with no buns, roast chicken with vegetables, or chili con carne; if you’re a more adventurous parent, or have some extra time, you can make some of the Halloween themed foods that show up online this time of year like this “feet loaf” recipe.
  • Have them WALK to trick or treat – all that running around and excitement will make it easier for their body to process the sweets. Research shows that the only time when simple sugars are processed well is after intense exercise.
  • Don’t fight your kids about candy or reward them with candy. Research shows that when you make something a reward such as “only after you eat your vegetables” it makes vegetables a chore and sweets a treat and sets up unhealthy eating habits and a lifetime of turning to sweets when you need rewards.
  • If your kids over-indulge, talk to them about how they feel – get them to tell you about the belly ache or the crazy feeling inside – so they have an internal sense of what it means to eat too much
  • Many parents will pay their children for each piece of candy – depending on the size of their haul, anywhere from a nickel to a quarter apiece. Then they can spend it on a toy, book or puzzle of their choice.
  • I recommend against having the candy in the house for weeks – sugar is a HABIT, and having a little every day will set up a cycle that will be hard to break, especially with the other sweet-laden holidays that are fast approaching.   So far, I have not thought of any amazing ways to remove a bag of candy from a child who has collected it, except #6 above.  If you have, please submit it in the comments below!!

What are your best pointers for a Healthy Hallowe’en?