- Make sure kids have a balanced lunch to bring to school on Halloween, to balance out the treats they'll have at school parties.
- Make sure kids have a balanced meal for dinner. Many families order pizza for dinner on Halloween - have a salad with it.
- Allow kids to eat a few of their favorite candies after trick-or-treating, and let them know they can have a few more at lunch tomorrow. The idea is not to have a "sugar-free" Halloween - but to enjoy treats in moderation and balance them out with other healthy foods.
- Focus on the "family time" that comes with Halloween. Create traditions for the holiday that do not have to do with candy.
- Give out healthier treats such as pretzels, and even toys.
- Plan Ahead. Make a plan prior to Halloween so that you can keep tabs on what your children will be consuming on Halloween. Talk to teachers (many schools hold Halloween events), party host(s) and neighbors to agree on the types treats to be handed out to children.
- Negotiate with Kids. Talk to kids and set-up expectations for Halloween day. Make sure that they do their homework and chores before trick-or-treating.
- Dinner First. On Halloween night, give children an extra-nutritious dinner before trick-or-treating. It will reduce their appetite for sweets. A meal filled with lean protein, whole grains and vegetables are the way to go! Remember to serve a glass of low fat or nonfat milk with the meal for extra nutrition. Drinking milk is proven to strengthen teeth, prevent cavities, boost calcium, vitamin D and potassium levels.
- Non-Food Treats. Consider handing out treats like themed school supplies like pencils and erasers to school-age children as they will come in handy for class. Small toys are also appropriate in reducing the amount of candy children eat during Halloween. Plus, they're fun!
- Power Trick-or-Treat. Make sure children get enough physical activity to burn off excess sugar and fat. Trick-or-treating can be a fun way to incorporate walking and exercise. Plan a few extra loops around the neighborhood. This process can tire out kids and prepare them to hit the sack when they get home.
- GOT MILK? Serving chocolate milk after trick or treating is a great, healthy treat. It doesn't deprive kids of the chocolate closely associated with Halloween, while still providing them great nutrition. If you want to help your kids sleep on Halloween night, a glass of warm low fat or nonfat milk prior to bed will do the trick. Milk contains tryptophan which helps people snooze.
- Set Limits. Set boundaries with your child on how many pieces of candy they're allowed to eat on Halloween and while trick-or-treating. Allow your children to make their own selections, but tell them they can only pick a few pieces.
- Exchange Program. Trade your children's Halloween candy for a desired toy to reduce candy consumption. Many schools, doctors and dentists have similar programs. Just ask!
- Out of Sight. Out of Mind. Bring candy to work or throw them away. Kids don't eat what they can't see.
- Set an Example. Parents should also stay away from eating too much candy during Halloween. They need to be role models for their children.
Elaine Magee is positively passionate about changing the way America eats-one recipe at a time! Her national column, THE RECIPE DOCTOR, appears in newspapers and magazines across the U.S. Elaine is the author of more than 25 books on nutrition and healthy cooking, with her most recent book being FOOD SYNERGY (Rodale, March 2008). Elaine's medical nutrition series includes TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE DIABETES, TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME, TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE ACID REFLUX (and four other titles). Hundreds of thousands of these books have been sold, and they are now being distributed all over the world, including China, Russia, Spain, Indonesia, and Arabic countries. New editions of these three books in the series will be released October-December 2008.
Elaine is a nutrition expert/writer for WEBMD.com, SilverPlanet.com, and magazines across the country, and she appears frequently on radio, educational videos, and television shows. She obtained her master's degree in public health nutrition from UC-Berkeley and is a registered dietitian. On Elaine's website: www.recipedoctor.com, you can sign up for her FREE recipe doctor club (and view a 3-year archive of her favorite recipe makeovers), check out her latest blogs on WebMD and silverplanet.com and watch her latest videos and television appearances.