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Halloween is the opening ceremony to the holiday season of eating! Parents everywhere start to wonder where the line should be drawn to their children’s sweet tooth, but sometimes we worry about the kids and forget about our habit of sneaking in some Halloween treats ourselves-- without realizing that the little bite-size treats can add up to some unwanted calories and pounds. Here are some tips from Einstein Dietitian Theresa Shank the help you prepare and conquer the spooky way those calories catch up to us.
1. The first step to success! When buying candy to give out, make sure you do not over buy and get stuck with the extra candy. (Although this might have been your plan all along!) That way there is less chance after Halloween of you opening the bags up for yourself. Another good idea is to avoid your favorite indulgences and stick to some less-favorite treats. Candy corn, anyone?
2. Halloween is NOT just candy. Halloween is a great holiday to plan some family activities. Whether this is a haunted house or hayride, try and make Halloween not just centered on trick or treating but more of a fun, family event. After trick or treating, if it is still early enough, plan a themed activity such as carving the pumpkin. There will be less chance everyone is just sitting around munching on sweets.
3. Be nutritionally prepared. Plan the whole day with the knowledge you may indulge a little at the end of the day. For example, pack yourself and your children an extra healthy lunch and make it a protein filled breakfast such as an egg white omelet. At night, make sure you eat a meal before trick or treating. That way, you won’t come back overly hungry and have more of a reason to sneak an extra couple treats. And last, try offering the kids and yourself a glass of fat free milk with your treats- it will fill you up and cause less of a sugar crash.
4. Plan a smart balance. Let your children be aware that they can pick a couple of their favorite treats to eat when they get home but the rest will be put away to last longer.
5. If you are lucky enough to have children that let you pick out a piece of their candy from their bag, pick wisely! Dark chocolate with its higher percentage of cocoa will have less sugar and is a source of antioxidants.
6. Divide and conquer. Let your children know that when they come home you will be dividing their loot into their favorites and not-so- favorites. This could turn into a game and help you learn more about your kids’ dependence on sweets!
7. Use Halloween as a teaching tool. For a positive twist that will save you some unwanted pounds, use Halloween to teach your children an important concept that kids could always use- giving. Give away their pile of less desired choices to an organization- such as to a foster home organization-- for those children who may not get to celebrate Halloween. Another great idea is to box up a Care Package and deliver it overseas to a solder and include something for their sweet tooth. Try this site: www.give2thetroops.org. This will get rid of some of the candy in a guilt free way!
8. Out of sight, out of mind. This concept really works! After picking the pile of candy the kids will be allowed to keep in the house, store it somewhere not within easy reach. That could mean in a top cabinet you do not use often or on a shelf in the basement. There will be less chance of grabbing that extra snack if it takes some effort to get to. Make sure whole candy bars or big snacks are divided into snack bags BEFORE storing so there is less chance of eating too many servings at once.
9. Plan Ahead. Sometimes the biggest problem isn’t Halloween but the weeks afterwards when all that left over candy is stashed in your house! Let your kids pick out one piece of candy a day to have as a treat. After a week or so when all the favorites are gone they might even stop asking!