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Family Matters – October 2017   arrow

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Trick Your Treating

Shelby Rundell-Le, 4-H Youth Development/Family & Consumer Science Agent, Gunnison County

There is nothing like the anticipation a child gets as they wait on the other side of a door on the night of Halloween. Will they be greeted by a ghoul, witch or a superhero? It is easy for us to get caught up in the sale and availability of candy this time of year, but instead of being that  sugarloving ghoul why not be a superhero in disguise who teaches kids to understand a healthy balance of their sweet treats? Halloween is the beginning of a holiday season, where imagination, thoughtfulness and creativity are shared with our peers. Halloween is not just for children, but for the entire family to spend time together, so why not enjoy it with healthier, smarter

Healthier Alternatives

When trick or treaters ring your doorbell, or when you host a Halloween party, what will you give them? Why not try giving them tasty foods that also have some nutrients? Halloween can be a healthy and active holiday for both adults and children. Get creative in your treat selection for party-goers and trick or treaters. It is easy to come up with treats that are lower in sugar and fat while providing daily fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Healthier Food Treat Options:

  • Trail mix
  • Mini box of raisins
  • Applesauce cups
  • Popcorn
  • Granola bars
  • Mini box of whole grain cereal
  • Fruit cups made with fruit juice
  • Fruit snacks made with real fruit juice

If candy is the treat of choice, choose bite sized candy bars, as they help with portion control while providing variety.

Halloween Treats Don’t Have to be Food! Children and adults alike love toys, games and goodie bags. Non-food options to influence physical activity is another great option. Why not promote activity with a treat?

  • Jump rope
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Yo-yos
  • Glow sticks
  • Hacky sacks

Additional non-food treats could include: temporary tattoos, wax fangs, spider rings, pens, pencils or erasers. The possibilities are endless.

Tricks for Managing Treats:

  • Use small baskets and fill it with smaller sized candies.
  • Don’t purchase candy until a day before Halloween, to resist temptation.
  • Avoid keeping candy in easy-access areas. Keep candy out of sight and out of mind.
  • Have a plan for leftovers. Think about what you will do with the leftover candy, perhaps donate to a food pantry, shelter or faith-based group.
  • Give your children a healthy meal before the Halloween party or going out to trick or treat so they are less likely to overindulge.
  • Give children limitations to houses within a 2-3 block radius, so they can get treats from known neighbors in the community.
  • Try to stay physically active. Regular exercise aids in weight and health management while improving overall wellness.
  • Don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth! Foods that are sticky and high in sugar can do damage to our teeth.

If Hosting a Party Provide Healthier Options Like:

  • Pumpkin muffins and apple cider.
  • Guacamole dip as “slimy green stuff” with cauliflower “brains”, etc.
  • Arrange a tray of fruits or vegetables to look like a skeleton, ghost or other Halloween character.
  • Provide many games and activities that don’t involve candy.
  • Dunk for apples, decorate pumpkins, and watch movies with homemade popcorn.
  • Have a costume contest.
  • Make homemade treats with children, such as rice cereal treats, smoothies or jack-o-lantern fruit cups.

Let’s Talk

Once trick or treating and the Halloween parties have finished, implement a “buy back” program for the Halloween candy. Have children choose the candy pieces they want to enjoy after the holiday. Parents then “buy” the remaining candy from the child while replacing it with a fun activity such as a sleepover, movie night or a new basketball. Children are able to enjoy the candy without eating too much, and the parents are able to use the remaining candy as they see fit. It’s valuable to know your child’s habits, but let them enjoy Halloween by setting up realistic attainable guidelines for candies. After all, it is one day of the year, and one day won’t ruin a progressive effort of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Recipes for Health:

Photo of Bony Fingers

Bony Fingers

Fill clear plastic gloves (the type designed for wearing in the kitchen when preparing food) with popcorn. Add a few pieces of candy corn at the end of each finger for fingernails. Tie the end with ribbon or yarn.