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Holy Candy, Batman! A Dietitian's Perspective On Enjoying Halloween With Kids

Every year about this time, I get asked A LOT about my thoughts on Halloween (aka all that candy in my house). Let me tell you how I feel...

I LOVE HALLOWEEN! It's one of my favorite holidays. I love the excitement and anticipation. I love that the kids get to pretend to be something else. I love that the big kids still do it too! I love that we get to see ALL of our awesome neighbors! And I love that my kids get to have all of their favorite treats. Yup, you read that right. I let them eat treats (gasp!)! Now, I do have a few strategies to set my kids up for learning some healthier habits.

Here are a few:

1. Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Studies show that kids do better in school with a full belly, so we know its important on school days. On special school days, like Halloween, it's even more important! They are hyped up and BUSY. So start them with a well balanced breakfast like whole grain cereal, low fat milk, and fruit.

2. Don't let the healthy meals stop there. Pack a healthy lunch. More than likely, they will get some treats at school, so you don't need to add any to the lunch box. You can still make it festive by adding a Halloween napkin, cutting their sandwich in the shape of a pumpkin with a fun cookie cutter, or getting some of those fun cheese's with the spooky wrappers. Or just keep it normal... they won't miss the fancy stuff, am I right?

3. Pack lots of water. Just like us, those little bodies can get dehydrated especially when running around and enjoying some extra activities, so pack an extra bottle and decorate it with some Halloween stickers to spike their interest.

4. Don't skip dinner. Trick or treating is right at dinner time, I get it, but pack them with some nutrients like protein and lots of vegetables. It will fuel them for a late night walking around in the cold and the candy won't look quite as tempting if they're not hungry.

5. Lastly, try not to over manage their candy and set the expectation ahead of time. Have a conversation about how candy will be handled in your home BEFORE you go out trick or treating. In our house, they can have whatever they want on Halloween. I do warn them that too much may upset their stomach, but I let them decide when enough is enough. At the end of the night we take a look at the loot and decide what is staying and what is going. We sell ours to a local orthodontist for $2/lb - well worth it! In past years we have done the switch witch. But we definitely keep some of our favorites.

Just remember, it's one day. It's a super fun, special holiday. I don't control the choices they make. They need to learn how to manage the candy for themselves. If they over do it and feel sick, that is a teachable moment - one more likely to be remembered than just me telling them it will happen as I take it away. They haven't become overly attached to the candy because they know they can have whatever they want. Which has made it even easier for them to sell it to the orthodontist for some straight up cash :) No, they won't sell it all, we saved some for lunch box treats and snacks, but only about 1/3 of it will stay - their choice, not mine. I want my kids to learn to have control over their food choices, to understand that eating too much makes them feel gross and yucky and eating healthier food makes them feel energized. I also want them to love Halloween for so much more than the candy - the dressing up and celebrating with friends. So far its working...

How do you handle Halloween in your house?

Julia, the dietitian that says celebrate Halloween

for more than just the candy

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