Tag Archives: healthy Halloween

Trick or (Sugar-Free) Treat? The Importance of Limiting Your Child’s Sugar Intake This Halloween

trick-or-treatMany families view Halloween as the biggest “cheat day” of the year, where they can binge on all the candy the kids collect from around the neighborhood. While trick-or-treating and snacking on the candy they collect is fun and exciting for your children, it’s important to remember that a massive influx of candy and sugary treats can often derail the hard work spent on limiting sugar intake the rest of the year. While a small amount of sugar may prove harmless for many kids, the difficulty in managing the sheer quantity the candy in one night is a challenge, and having a plan in place before Halloween night is key in managing expectations for both parents and kids.

-Think about whether you want to limit sugar or avoid it all together this Halloween. Consider that sugar intake increases your child’s risk for cavities, excessive weight gain, and of course belly aches.
-Want to limit sugar but stumped on what to replace it with? The pumpkin—a multipurpose tool on Halloween—is a great, healthy food choice. In addition to painting the outside, you can make use of the pumpkin flesh (or canned pumpkin puree) and seeds to cook with.
—Try sprinkling coconut oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg on pumpkin seeds, and baking in the oven on 400°F until warm and toasty (around 10 minutes).
—Use pumpkin puree to paint scary faces on apple slices and crackers. You might also try using raisins, dried fruit pieces, and peanut butter dollops to create some spooky faces and ghostly shapes.
-Finding a new and improved version of old school trick-or-treating may help with limiting the sugar rush as well. Maybe trick-or-treating this year is a backyard activity with your kids and their friends, or perhaps a costume competition with a few neighbors. Having the kids involved in the planning ramps up excitement and gives them ownership over creating this new tradition.
-Another way to go sugarless this Halloween is to focus on other sources of “treats” and rewards unrelated to food. Offer your kiddo the chance to trade candy in for movie tickets, favorite school supplies, flavored lip glosses or temporary tattoos.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Goldhaber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Tricks and Treats to Keep Your Family Healthy This Halloween

halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, many households find themselves filled with mini bags of M&Ms and fun-sized candy bars scattered throughout the cupboards. Part of being a kid is trick-or-treating and trading candy for the best loot. Kids should always be kids and enjoy dressing up and collecting bags filled with chocolate, lollipops, and other sugary treats. This does not mean that they need to gorge themselves on candy, which will only lead to stomach aches and sugar crashes—a situation more frightening than a haunted house! Try these tips for keeping meals healthy and kids happy.

1. Keep a balanced perspective. To support healthy habits, set rules before Halloween treats flood your house about how much candy can be eaten on any given day. Try one fun-sized candy bar in lunch boxes balanced with their usual healthy sandwich and fruit. Decide ahead of time (with your kids) that 1 regular candy bar is equivalent to 2-3 fun sized bars and share after dinner. By keeping the usual healthy foods in your kids’ diet, the occasional shared indulgence can be part of that overall healthy lifestyle.

2. Freeze the leftovers. Have kids help organize candy by type and preference. After setting aside 15 fun-sized pieces to be eaten over the next week or two, put the rest away in the freezer to be pulled out for later occasions. It will take some of the temptation and immediacy away.

3. Mix it into healthy snacks. Consider taking extra M&M packs or other mini pieces and mix them in with dried fruit and nuts to pack as an after-school trail mix snack.

4. Give it to others. Encourage kids to make care packages for grandparents or other relatives, “trick or treat” it back to the doorman, or bring it to school for a favorite teacher. Nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and other charities also accept candy donations after Halloween. Giving candy back will help to encourage sharing, while keeping excess candy out of the house.

Remember, many kids have various food allergies that may affect their trick-or-treating experience. The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization has been working to promote the Teal Pumpkin Project, which encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and support all kids participating in Halloween, while avoiding risk of allergic reaction. FARE asks participants to provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters, place a teal pumpkin in front of your home or apartment door to indicate that you have non-food treats available, and consider displaying signs or posters from FARE to explain the meaning of the teal pumpkin and encourage others to consider joining in! For more information about the project, visit http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project/faqs.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Bridget Murphy, MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.