I’m not sure how, but it’s already the end of October! It’s crazy how time flies. Halloween is only a few days away. For some people (including me, for most of my life) Halloween marks the beginning of the downward eating spiral through Christmas. There’s candy in the house for weeks and just when it’s finally cleared out its time for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a massive day of indulgence with a week of leftovers and as soon as you work through those, the holiday parties begin. Between holiday parties and cookie swaps, there’s food everywhere, all the time.
It can be totally overwhelming. You’re in this frenzied tail-spin until you wake up in January feeling exhausted, bloated and 10 lbs heavier than you were before Halloween. Let’s break that cycle, shall we?
I know Halloween can be a tough holiday for parents who, while they certainly don’t want to restrict their child from the fun of the holiday, they dread the constant sugar-induced hyperactivity and attitude problems. I’m all for enjoying tradition, but I believe there are ways to make the most of Halloween traditions without making the focus the candy and treats. It IS possible to have a healthy Halloween and embrace moderation while still enjoying the holiday to the fullest!
Try to switch the focus this year to some of the non-food aspects of the holiday. Have a family pumpkin-carving contest. You can even use oranges and let your kids “crave” a face into the peel with a plastic knife. Emphasize decorating the house or let your kids decorate their rooms in a Halloween theme. Go on a hayride, tour a haunted house or go apple picking. (C’mon, you know you’re impressed by my crazy pumpkin carving skills!! haha. That’s my puppy, Oakley, in pumpkin form)
Don’t keep those bags of candy in the house the week leading up to trick-or-treat. Make fun, healthy holiday treats together like roasted pumpkin seeds, apple crisp or banana ghosts.
Trick or treat is another thing all together. Kids come home with buckets full of more candy than they should optimally eat all year and wolf it down in a matter or days or weeks. There are a ton of strategies out to keep your kids from becoming sugar monsters. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Host a buy back. When your kid comes home with their big bag of treats, assign a monetary value to either the whole haul or to select pieces. When they trade it in, they get the cash.
- Offer a non-food incentive for their candy. Is there a pair of sneakers your son has been begging for? Offer a swap – candy for sneakers.
- Let them pick the 5 pieces they want most and take away the rest. Maybe you can let them continue to pick 1-2 pieces per week for the next few weeks.
At the end of the day, letting your child consume an entire bucket of candy, whether its over a few weeks or a few days, is not the best strategy for their health, for their emotional relationship with food and certainly not for their behavior and focus. Get creative; there are tons of awesome ideas out there!