Halloween is so much fun when you’re a kid. Dressing up in a funny or scary or cute costume, running around the neighbourhood with your friends, watching scary movies and of course, the candy. Ugh, the candy.
Who among us didn’t come home with a pillowcase or Halloween bag filled with tasty treats?!
I’m not playing Twix when I say I love Halloween.
And while there’s nothing wrong with letting your kids indulge in some sugary goodness, an overemphasis on the candy gathering part of the holiday can lead to some unhealthy habits.
Obesity rates among Canadian children have tripled over the last 30 years, and we know that children living with obesity are more likely to develop other health problems and struggle with their weight later in life.
Currently, over 60% of adult Canadians are living with obesity or overweight.
With those statistics in mind, why not try to implement some healthier habits this Halloween? It could be a real breath of fresh scare.
There’s no way to realistically separate the holiday from the candy. All the kids want it. All the kids are going to get it. And you don’t want to be that ghoulish parent who hands out apples or toothpaste to kids all night and then forces their kids to fork over their spoils.
Instead, we should be preaching moderation and balance when it comes to consuming sweet treats. There’s nothing wrong with having a little bit and saving some for later, but it becomes a problem when kids are neck-deep in Mars bars for days on end.
Try serving a healthier snack along side candy to provide balance and discard leftover candy to show that at some point, it’s good to move on. We don’t have to save and eat every scrap.
It’s important to allow children to indulge a little bit, while learning not to over do it. There is evidence that completely restricting certain foods only boosts a child’s preference for and consumption of those foods (1).
Reinforce the moderation by focusing on the non-food related parts of Halloween. It doesn’t just have to be about the trick-or-treating and candy consumption.
Watching movies, bobbing for apples, Halloween dance parties and focusing on costumes, decorations and games are all fun ways to celebrate Halloween in a healthier way.
Carve out some time for pumpkin decorating, too.
Planning your night and the subsequent days can go a long way toward not only a healthier Halloween, but valuable lessons about moderation and balance in our diet – lessons that will serve kids well in their future.
We hope all the puns didn’t drive you batty! Happy Halloween!
Birch, L. L., Fisher, J. O., & Davison, K. K. (2003). Learning to overeat: maternal use of restrictive feeding practices promotes girls’ eating in the absence of hunger. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 78(2), 215-220.