Candy Corn, miniature candy bars, apples and pumpkins. Halloween is always an exciting time of year. Costumes are hanging in the stores, and candy is at the end of almost every isle. So, the season of chocolate begins. We can be exposed to continuous candy from Halloween to Easter. During this time of the continuous sugar rush we need to make sure we have healthy snacks available, for ourselves and our families.
What’s scarier than ghosts, goblins and ghouls? For some parents it is the sugar shock that occurs when their children eat candy by the handful on Halloween. Parents don’t want to spoil the trick-or-treat fun for their own superheroes or to disappoint the pirates and princesses that come to their doors. But what is a neighbor, who cares about diet, health and tooth decay, to do this Halloween?
While candy is the popular choice of treats, there are many ways to go about it so you are not just offering the same old bowl of sugar-filled sweets each year. If you are like me, you do not mind the trick-or-treating, but would just like to keep it a little healthier and safer. The following tips will help you do just that.
Seek out healthier alternatives to candy. These options include small packages of pretzels, nuts, raisins, microwave popcorn and apples. String cheese is a great alternative with the nutritional value of calcium and protein, two nutrients essential to a child’s growing body. Single serving packages of fruit, applesauce and pudding also offer nutritional value. Individual boxes of 100 percent fruit juice are a substitute to handing out cans of pop.
Keep in mind that your treats do not have to be edible. Stickers and temporary tattoos are a crowd-pleaser among children. Variety packs are often available at local stores for low cost. Small toys like pumpkins, spiders, worms, and other creepy figures are fitting for the holiday. Crayons, pencils, colored chalk or fun shaped erasers are a great and useful treat.
Tips for parents sending their children out to collect goodies
Before trick-or-treating, feed children a nutritious and filling meal to reduce the Fright Night sugar intake.
Upon arriving home for the evening, sort candy with your child. Allow the child to choose his/her favorites and eat a piece or two. Make sure you throw away any candy not in a wrapper or packages that look like they have been tampered with. Also, check fruit for damage. Homemade treats from homes you are not familiar with should be discarded. Apply the food safety rule: If in doubt throw it out.
Offer candy as an occasional snack or dessert, but try not to call attention to it. Once the novelty wears off, children often lose interest.
Use this holiday to teach them about moderation. Talk with them about diet, health and good-eating habits at all times, not just Halloween, so that they grow to understand the relationship between eating and body health. Help them to learn that some indulgence is okay, as long as they do not consume too much.
Make a change in your neighborhood with different treats that are healthful, useful and surprising. Challenge kids to expect something a little different this Halloween. They may even have more fun.
Safety should also be top priority for Trick or Treaters. Parents can help prevent children from getting injured by following a few basic safety tips.
Make sure an adult or an older responsible youth will be supervising children under age 12.
Plan and discuss the route trick or treaters intend to follow.
Teach children to stop only at well- lit homes and never enter a stranger’s house.
Establish a return time.
Remind children not to eat any treat until they return home, so treats can be inspected.
Pin a slip of paper with the child’s name; address and phone number inside a pocket in case the child gets separated from the group.
Costumes should not be so long that they cause a tripping hazard.
Masks should have nose and mouth openings and large eye holes. Masks can obstruct a child’s vision consider using make-up instead of a mask.
Trick or Treaters
Walk; don’t run, from house to house. Do not cross lawns where uneven ground or objects can cause falling hazards.
Walk on sidewalks, not in the street.
Walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic if there are no sidewalks.
Carry a flashlight so you can be seen by motorist and other people.
Do not enter homes of people you don’t know.
Watch closely for children darting into the street.
Enter and Exit driveways carefully
Watch for children in dark clothing.
Have a safe and fun filled Halloween. Enjoy the time spent with family and friends.
Rhonda Gordon writes for Nevada’s The Emphoria Gazette and is the Family and Consumer Sciences agent in Lyon County. She can be reached for more information on her The Emphoria Gazette column, nutrition, food safety, parenting, financial management, health and safety via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.