Hold off on buying candy until the week of Halloween, rather than the second it hits shelves. This eliminates the temptation from the start. Once it does make it into the house, keep it out of site, out of mind until the day of, making it that much more enjoyable.
Kate Geagan, MS, RD author of Go Green Get Lean, allows her 3 and 5 year old to enjoy a bunch of candy on the big day. "If you're doing things right the rest of the time, don't panic if Halloween descends into a sugar free-for-all. If it's truly just one day in the context of a healthy diet, it's not going to have any long term health complications for most kids."
"The key to lessening the sugar load positively is to keep them well nourished with protein and nutrient-rich meals and snacks throughout the day," Kate says. For a Halloween-themed breakfast, Kate likes swirling 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin into a bowl of oatmeal or into a Greek yogurt banana smoothie, and sprinkling with toasted pumpkin seeds.
A hearty and wholesome dinner leaves less room in their tummies for sweets later. By offering fun party-type foods, your kids won't notice your other motive. Some delicious ideas include a bean and lean beef chili bar with toppings such as shredded cheese, plain Greek yogurt, sliced green onion, diced tomato and avocado slices. Another warming option is silky butternut squash soup. For extra flair, serve it in scooped-out and roasted mini pumpkins.
Since ghosts and goblins chasing around the neighborhood get thirsty, quench their thirst with water. Ahead of time, let them pick out a water bottle themed with their costume, so they will keep it with them.
While you can't control what goes into the bag of loot, you can control where it goes next. "Kids are actually more comfortable if they know what to expect, so be clear and confident about whatever policy you decide to set.
Having boundaries makes everyone more comfortable and reduces stress," Kate says. One way to do it is first help them remove any unsafe toys or candy. Then, sort the loot into the "lunchbox" pile where one treat can be enjoyed each day for the rest of the week, and the "send away" pile for giving to the troops or a dentist buy-back program. This excites kids, knowing they're helping out real life super heroes. Visit Operationgratitude.com for more information.
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