Friday, October 26, 2007

A Healthy Halloween???

We are currently supporting one of our children as he goes through a fitness/healthy nutrition program at a local health club. One of the points that the program directors stressed early on was the whole program will be meaningless to our child if the parents and other family members do not model the required behavior. So I guess it is true that you can't expect your kids to do something that your not willing to do yourself.
As I sat with him in the nutrition discussion and the dietation recommended that they set a goal to only have 3 pieces of candy for Halloween, I saw his whole demeanor change. He got this you-can't-make-me do this look on his face, folded his arms and pouted, while staring at the floor for the remainder of the discussion. Wow, I realized that this had to be something the whole family was in on, and we still had to make Halloween fun. And the only way for it to work for our son was to have him plan it.
So, can Halloween still be fun without the candy. In the past we have taken our costumed kids to my husbands work for an office to office trick-or-treating frenzy. They would join hundreds of other little costumed monsters and go around with pillow cases and load up. We could have probably, if not easily filled a ten gallon bucket with everything they had loaded up on. Then we would spend the next couple of days pulling them off walls, ceiling, roof, or up off the bathroom floor after offically they had gone too far. Trying to get them out of bed the next morning was a joke.

So why not do something different? Why not try to have a fun Halloween without the sugar?
I think we can still have fun and avoiding not so good food choices doesn't mean that we just pretend like the holiday doesn’t exist either. Here are some ideas our boy agreed to and other's he helped us come up with.
Before Halloween Ideas…
1.Don’t stock up on the candy in advance. It will be more tempting to snack on if it is around. We are going to take our kids to the store on Halloween and let them pick out 3 pieces of candy. I'm sure he will go for the King Size but he will still be on goal. For other families, you can still buy candy on Halloween day. Keep your home a healthy safe zone.
2. For other families - Buy candy that you are not particularly fond of or better yet… Buy healthier edibles to hand out or non-food treats. (As I try some out I'll try to include recipes in future blogs.)
3. Have a family game plan on what their ideas are concerning candy. Set goals ahead of time about how much candy will get consumed instead of saying what they can and can’t have the night of Halloween. Examples might include letting kids pick 3 to 5 favorite pieces of candy and donating the rest to the Troops in Iraq(Through our local gym), Or instead of dealing with the hassle of parking in Trick-or-Treat friendly neighborhoods, take the family to a movie, Or exchange candy for money, movie tickets, a day at Gameworks, or a massage for parents just for dealing with all the candy hype.

Should – Do’s for Trick or Treating…
1. Eat a well balanced meal before trick or treating. Yes, I know that you want to take the little ones out before it get’s dark but you will be up all night peeling them off the ceiling and walls if you take them on empty stomachs. Take the Time to have an early healthy family dinner. Maybe you could even have turkey so that they get tired faster.
2. Chew gum while going trick or treating so you’re not tempted to eat as you go.
3. Trick or treat in neighborhoods where you have to walk longer distances between houses. Walk don’t drive between neighborhoods.
4. Consider collecting food for the local Food Bank instead of candy, or candy for the soldiers in Iraq instead of yourself.
5. Take a little pumpkin bucket instead of your pillowcase to collect your candy. When it is full quit.
6. Once you get back home, separate what you really want and the quantity you set as a goal and immediately take the leftover candy out of the house. (You can store it in the car trunk until you decide where to donate it (co-workers, charity, or in the dump).
7. Store the candy you do keep in an out of sight place. Maybe in a high cupboard that you rarely open.

Attending a Party…
1. Eat healthy before you go.
2. Take a water bottle and a safe food with you that way you will always have at least one safe choice to make.
3. Better yet, throw your own healthy safe get-together.

What to Hand out…
1. Think about offering some low-calorie, safe snacks to the little goblins who ring your bell. These might include…sugar-free gum, small packages of peanuts, nuts, raisins, granola bars, fruit-roll ups, pretzels, cheese sticks, etc.
2. Or maybe skip the food and go with… stickers, holiday pencils, erasers, whistles, rubber spiders, rings, crayons, bubbles, colored chalk, balloons (maybe you could rent a tank and fill them on the spot). What toddler wouldn’t think you were the best if they got a balloon from you. Your loose change, pennies, nickels and dimes would make them think you were the richest people in the world and might be cheaper than buying the candy in the long run. Here is what I got at the local $1 store for the kids who visit our home this holiday season.

Our son decided after all these good ideas that Trick or treating would probably be too much of a temptation. So for the first time ever, we will not be going around collecting candy. Instead he has invited all of his friends to stop by our home where we are having pleanty of healthy snacks, watching a not-so-scary kids' Halloween Movie. All in all, we are hopefull that he will have a great time and the bonus is he can still wear his Super-Hero costume. He is actually excited about the party and I'm anticipating a very fun but healthy Halloween.

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