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The trick to fewer treats

Written by Contributor. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on October 26, 2011 with No Comments

by Sarah Stone

A gaggle of witches, ghosts, vampires and more are about to descend on neighborhoods around the country.

For children, Halloween is a dream come true: The chance to dress up, stay out late and – best of all – fill their bellies with candy.

For parents, though, Halloween can seem like more of a trick than a treat. In the age of childhood obesity, it is already a huge struggle to get our children to live healthy lives; the last thing we need is to compete with a bag bursting with candy bars.

 Relax — you don’t have to resign yourself to weeks of sticky fingers and chocolaty smudges as your children gorge on the wrong kinds of food. Your family can enjoy this holiday without consuming ghoulish amounts of calories.

If you are the parent of an overweight child or adolescent-or even if you’re just interested in reducing the amount of sugar your children consume — it’s natural to worry about Halloween candy and the effect it will have on your child.

 So how can you keep your child from succumbing to the obvious health pitfalls during a candy-obsessed holiday like Halloween?

 One of the most important things to keep in mind is that keeping Halloween healthy can’t be about deprivation. If you keep your children from candy altogether or are too tight-fisted when handing it out, your children’s desire to gobble it up will only intensify. It is the classic forbidden fruit principle. Instead, make Halloween about enjoying treats in moderation.

Try to achieve a balance between candy, healthy foods, and activity.

Unless you put your children in a cave until candy corn has disappeared from store shelves, you can’t prevent them from wanting to indulge. But you can take the focus off of junk food while still enjoying this holiday.

Infuse Halloween with some action. While it’s 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 children about how you can offset increased calorie consumption so that they make the connection.

Fuel up for trick-or-treating. In the midst of all of the costume-donning, face-painting hustle and bustle, don’t forget to eat dinner – a healthy one. You might consider pre-planning a crock-pot roast or long-simmering soup that will be ready to eat when you need it so that you won’t have to divide your energy between the stove and your little ghost’s sheets. If your children feel full while collecting candy, they’ll be less likely to overindulge.

Play up dress-up. As Halloween approaches — and during the Halloween evening itself — build your children’s excitement around things other than candy; namely, their costumes. At least within your own house, you can make Halloween a holiday about dressing up, not about amassing a collection of candy. Let your children play an active role in choosing what they want to be, and if possible, spend time together working on a homemade costume. Remind them how much fun it will be to pretend that they’re saving the world, just like their favorite action hero, for example.

Buy treats in a timely manner. Unless you want to be known as a Halloween Grinch, you probably won’t be able to get away with not buying any seasonal treats-so time your shopping trip well. In other words, avoid buying candy too early or too late.

Attend an alternative bash. Many communities offer alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, such as parties, fall festivals or “trunk-or-treats.” If there’s nothing in your area, consider throwing your own bash, perhaps with the help of your friends and neighbors. You can set up Halloween-themed games, offer pumpkin-carving, bob for apples and hold costume contests, for example. And at the end of the night, you can provide all of the attendees with treat bags.

Hand out healthy food. If a member of your family will be staying home to hand out your own treats to roving ghouls and goblins, pick a healthy option-or one that’s non-edible. Good choices include granola bars, trail mix, raisins, pretzel snack bags, Halloween pencils, key chains, stickers, etc.

 

About the author: Sarah Stone is co-creator and director of operations for MindStream Academy. Along with Founder Ray Travaglione, she has worked on the MindStream Academy project from its inception. She takes great pride in helping teens work to heal and nurture what is broken and learn to be tolerant and understanding of themselves. MindStream Academy (www.mindstreamacademy.com) is a full-service boarding school on a 43-acre horse farm in South Carolina for teens and tweens who want to get healthy, fit, lose weight, take control of their lives, build self-esteem and pursue personal passions.

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