For kids, Halloween is a dream come true: the chance to dress up, stay out late. and--perhaps best of all--fill their bellies with candy. For parents, though, Halloween can seem like more of a trick than a treat. In this age of childhood obesity, it already is a huge struggle to get our kids to live healthy lives; the last thing we need is to compete with a bag bursting with candy bars.
"If you're the parent of an overweight child or adolescent--or even if you're just interested in reducing the amount of sugar your kids consume--it's natural to worry about Halloween candy and the effect it will have on your child," says Sarah Stone, director of operations at MindStream Academy, Hilton Head, S.C., a coed health and wellness boarding school for teens.
"One of the most important things to keep in mind is that making Halloween healthy can't be about deprivation. If you keep your kids from candy altogether or are too tight-fisted when you hand it out, your child's desire to gobble it up will only intensify. It's the classic forbidden fruit principle. Instead. make Halloween about enjoying treats in moderation. Try to achieve a balance among candy, healthy foods, and activity."
Infuse Halloween with some action. While it is a good idea to remain active year-round, place a special emphasis on exercise during the weeks leading up to Halloween in order to prepare for the extra calories that are on the horizon. Talk with your kids about how you can offset increased calorie consumption so that they make the connection.
Fuel up for trick-or-treating, n the midst of all of the costume-donning, face-painting hustle and bustle, do not forget to eat dinner--a healthy one. If your kids feel full while collecting candy, they will be less likely to overindulge.
Play up dress-up. As Halloween approaches (and during the evening of Oct. 31 itself) build your kids' excitement around things other than candy--namely, their costumes.
Welcome the Great Pumpkin. According to Linus van Pelt from the comic strip "Peanuts," the Great Pumpkin rises from the "most sincere" pumpkin patch on Halloween night, then flies around the globe delivering toys to good boys and girls. Allow your kids to pick...