While lollies are the inevitable star of Halloween, it doesn't have to be a scary one. As you prepare the munchkins for the annual tradition of treat collecting, take a moment to read these five helpful Halloween hints. In addition to making the goodies concept easier to swallow, these tips will help your kids develop healthy behaviours for dealing with sweets.
“Halloween is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids how to have a positive, moderate and balanced attitude about candy and all treat foods,” says Kim Galeaz, registered dietitian and culinary nutrition consultant to The Coca-Cola Company. “Sweets will always be a part of life, so help them learn to enjoy them responsibly by choosing sensible portions and upping their activity to balance those calories.” 

1. Rethink Your Treats

The kids will get plenty of candy from the neighbours, so decrease the amount you have at home. Sure, you don’t want to be known as the people who give out pencils on Halloween, but halve the amount of treats you offer by supplementing with fun, “outside-the-box” items. Glow-in-the-dark teeth and bouncy balls are usually a hit. “So many snacks now come in mini package sizes, and I call that built-in portion control!” says Galeaz. “They help teach the concept and importance of sensible portions. You can enjoy anything you’d like as long as you pay attention to the portion size.” This strategy means more variety and enjoyment in everyone’s eating plan and less leftover sweets in your pantry.

2. Trick or Treat-ercise

Hang up the car keys for the night. Weather and circumstances permitting, rather than drive the kids from house to house, encourage them to walk, skip or run. For older kids, who may have some independence from Mum and Dad, suggest riding a bike, scooter or skateboard to meet up with friends. “Taking advantage of every opportunity to be more active – even on Halloween night – helps your kids understand the importance of physical exercise for balancing calories and overall better health,” says Galeaz. “They’ll realise how easy it is to be active, whether it’s a normal day or a holiday.”

3. Gather for Ghoulish Games

Before heading out to trick or treat-ercise, invite other families over for ghoulish games that involve physical activity. “Every activity that burns calories counts when it comes to being and staying healthier,” says Galeaz. “Family games and activities are an easy way to burn calories and boost health… all while laughing and having a blast!” Plan an “RIP Relay Race” with faux tombstones marking appropriate distances for the hand-off of the baton, or shovel in this instance. Create a “Spooky Scavenger Hunt” in the backyard to get them running from clue to clue (while exercising the brain, too). Or, introduce a “Wacky Witch Wheelbarrow Race,” where the upright partner must wear a witch hat while pushing a partner across the finish line. Prizes can be selected from a witch’s cauldron. Get creative!

4. Manage the Mouthfuls

Loads of lollies may come home with your child, but that doesn't mean each must be consumed. Take charge of the plastic jack o' lantern, and dole out an appropriate amount of candy for the big night. “Use this opportunity to teach the concept of moderation and balance when it comes to sweets,” says Galeaz. “Candy is a fun food to be enjoyed in sensible portions in addition to, not instead of, regular meals. So help your kids divide their candy into 'daily portions' of a few pieces and place in zippered snack-size bags. You can even freeze candy.”

5. Balance Treats with Nutritious Eats

As the saying goes, everything in moderation. Plan ahead and prepare a well-balanced dinner. The more satisfied the tummy, perhaps a more moderate amount of candy will go in it. “Whether it’s Halloween or a normal weekday night, make sure everyone eats a nutrient-rich dinner filled with lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy and plenty of fruits and veggies,” says Galeaz. “It could be something as simple and quick as a whole grain-crust pizza topped with lean ham, pineapple and red pepper chucks and mozzarella cheese.” 

Here’s to a healthy and happy Halloween!