27 Oct How to survive Halloween trick or treating
My kids have been talking about Halloween for weeks. My Greek mythology-obsessed son is going as Apollo, and my avid reader daughter will be Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. While they are excited about their costumes , they can’t wait to gloat over their loot of candy, chips and other junk.
You may think this is a dietitian’s nightmare, but let’s put Halloween in perspective. It’s one day of the year (okay, it lingers for a few days), but as long as your kids aren’t eating like this for the whole year, it’s okay to relax and let them enjoy. Depriving kids of treats will only make them covet it more, and may lead to overeating.
Having said that, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve so trick or treating doesn’t get out of hand. I talked about this on CBC News Network with John Northcott (click image to watch).
- Curb everyone’s hunger with a simple meal before trick or treating. That way, no one’s tempted to sneak in treats while they’re out or are starving afterwards. We love pizza! I usually make pizza the day before so things run smoothly on the big night. Check out these spooktacular pizza ideas including these Mozza Mummies, and try these DIY dough ideas if you wish.
- Set some ground rules ahead of time, like waiting to eat treats after they get home and no eating on the go.
- Send them out with a smallish bag so there’s only so much loot they can collect. This might be a challenge with older kids, but worth a try. Also, have a game plan on how many streets to trick or treat.
- Sort through the loot after they get home. I get rid of anything that’s homemade (unless it’s from a neighbour we know and trust). Lollipops and hard candy also get tossed as they are hard to brush away and could wreak havoc on teeth, especially those ring pops.
- Let them eat as many treats as they wish that night (and share some with you!). The key is to foster self-regulation. You may be surprised at how few they actually eat. And if they get sick from gorging on too many treats, then that’s a learning opportunity. Dietitian Sarah Remmer has a good perspective on this issue.
- Ask them to portion out a few treats a day for 5 days (you decide what number works for you). Keep these in a kitchen cupboard not in their rooms.
- Eat treats after meals or with snack so it doesn’t mess with their appetite. Also, it’s better for their teeth as the saliva after a meal prevent things sticking to teeth.
- Conjure up the switch witch. I give my kids $20 for the rest of their stash. Books, games and toys are other options.
If you’re hosting a Halloween party or sending in food for your child’s class, get inspired by these delicious, healthy Halloween food ideas – the veggie skeleton is a big hit.