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6 Dietitian Tips for a Healthy Halloween

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6 Dietitian Tips for a Healthy Halloween

With the chance to dress up and stock up on sweets, it's no wonder Halloween is a holiday favorite of both kids and adults alike.  Make sure your holiday is both fun and healthy with these six, simple tips from UnityPoint Health dietitian, Allison Hueschen, RD,LD.

Making Halloween Healthy

  1. Fill up first.  Having a healthy meal or snack before your kids go trick-or-treating can help reduce the temptation to snack while walking or to overindulge when they get home. 

  2. Choose the right bag.  Be sure to find an appropriate size bag for your child. Steer clear of the pillowcase method and go for a smaller gift bag. 

  3. Offer alternatives.  For trick-or-treaters who come to your house, offer fun-size candy instead of full size.  Or, consider healthier treats, such as clementines, snack-sized packages of popcorn, dried fruit, trail mix, nuts or pumpkin seeds.  Also, consider handing out non-food items, like glow sticks, stickers, temporary tattoos, bubbles and spider rings. Combing through Halloween candy becomes extremely important for families of children with food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages families to also consider handing out non-food items to trick-or-treaters and placing teal pumpkins as a symbol outside their homes.

  4. Get moving.  Walk around the neighborhood instead of driving. 

  5. Have a candy plan.  Halloween can be a great opportunity to talk to your child about enjoying special treats in moderation, as part of an overall healthy diet.  Discuss the plan for how your family will handle the candy beforehand.  If your child is old enough, let him or her help decide what to do with the excess.

  6. Get rid of the extra.  Here are some ideas of what to do with the leftover candy: 

    1. When your child gets home from trick-or-treating, have him or her make a pile of their personal favorites to enjoy in moderation (one to three pieces per day is a good guideline). 
    2. When your child asks for a piece of candy, offer it alongside a healthy snack, such as a piece of fruit or glass of milk. 
    3. Consider mixing extra candy with whole grain cereal, nuts and dried fruit to make a homemade trail mix for snacks. 
    4. "Buy back" candy from your child.  Some dentists' offices also offer buy-back or trade-in programs. 
    5. Donate extra candy to a local shelter or send in a care package to those serving overseas. 

Remember, Halloween, like other holidays, is just one day a year.  It's what kids (and adults) eat every day that has the most impact on their nutrition and health. For any questions about improving you and/or your child’s nutrition, contact your UnityPoint Health provider.