Creative costumes, haunted houses, and trick-or-treating make Halloween one of the year’s most enjoyable holidays. On October 31, children disguised as witches, clowns, ghosts and action heroes will race door to door asking neighbors to fill their bags with all sorts of treats. This Halloween, the American Heart Association encourages everyone to offer healthy snacks, so kids don’t get “tricked” into treats high in cholesterol or fat.
“Childhood obesity continues to be a top health concern among parents,” says Dr. Amanda Menco, a pediatrician at Scarsdale Medical Group. “About one-third of children and teens in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese. Childhood obesity can lead to serious health concerns like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and some types of cancer, so helping children build healthy habits has lifelong benefits.”
Don’t get spooked! To have a healthier Halloween, the American Heart Association offers these tips:
- Feed your child a healthy meal BEFORE trick-or-treating. This will deter the urge to fill up on candy along their route.
- Make the occasion about physical activity. Plan a route around the neighborhood and stick to it.
- Instead of handing out candy, try boxes of yogurt-covered raisins, single-serving bags of low-fat popcorn, low-salt pretzels – or even toys.
- Pick the “right size” bag for your child’s treats. Skip the pillowcase method and choose something moderate in size.
Here’s how to scare the “bad guys” away after your October 31festivities:
- Avoid the urge to buy on-sale candy in stores after Halloween.
- Try limiting your children to one piece of candy per day, along with a healthy snack; oranges, apples and the like that have been purchased at a store can help pacify that sweet tooth.
- “Buy back” candy from your kids for money or other fun prizes, such as a day at the zoo. (Some dentists’ offices offer this “buy back” service.)
“With a little creativity, you can find fun ways to make your Halloween healthier, whether you’re having a party with friends or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood,” says Dr. Menco.