As Halloween is quickly approaching, families are preparing to take on the annual trick or treating adventure. Families are racing to the store to pick out costumes, pumpkins, and treats to hand out. While Halloween may not be deemed as the healthiest holiday, it can be a great way to spend time with your family and even get in some exercise.
There are some healthful ways to make your Halloween not so haunting. Prior to trick or treating, enjoy a nutritious dinner with your family. Not only is sitting down at the dinner table a great way to bond, having a nutrient dense dinner will allow you to have a full stomach and help alleviate the future candy binge. Another healthful hint is to include some non-food items (i.e. spider rings, glow sticks, vampire teeth, etc.) in your candy bowl. By providing options other than candy, not only are you accommodating those that have food allergies, you are also allowing children to make a healthier choice. Halloween is a great way to exercise with your family! As opposed to riding in the car, choose to walk house to house when possible.
As the evening of venturing house to house comes to an end, it’s likely that you’ve barely made it through your own door when your child asks, “Can I have a piece of candy?!” As you look down at your child, they have a bag filled to the brim with tasty, sugar-filled treats. You hesitantly respond with, “Yes, but only a few pieces.” In order to prevent a sugar overload, set a number of pieces of candy for your child to indulge in each day. You may also consider donating extra candy to homeless shelters and some dentist offices even offer candy exchange programs!
The 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that less than 10% of your daily calories come from added sugars. The average American exceeds this recommendation on a daily basis. Added sugars can be found in several tasty food items: candy, cakes, ice cream, jellies, syrups, soft drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks, just to name a few. There are some simple ways to cut back on added sugars in your diet. Try choosing fruit in place of dessert, drink water as opposed to sugar filled drinks, choose plain or unsweetened foods as available. However, if you’re really craving something sweet, allow yourself to have a small portion on occasion.
Melinda Stokes, Dietetic Technician & Virginia Cooperative Extension Intern
Learn more about healthy eating and dietary recommendations by visiting www.choosemyplate.gov or by speaking with a Registered Dietitian.
By Kim Butterfield, Family and Consumer Science Agent, Roanoke/Salem