Feature Articles: Holidays
Teach children healthy habits for Halloween
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Bates County, University of Missouri Extension
It’s hard to think of Halloween as a holiday to practice healthy habits when the goal for most children is to get as much candy as possible for their own private stash. However, this is a great time to set a good example in your own household and to remember that moderation is one key to a healthy diet.
One way to be a good role model for your children is to make a healthy choice for what will be passed out at your house on Halloween night. Some examples of Halloween treats you might choose include apples, small boxes of raisins, individual bags of snack mix or pretzels, stickers, Halloween puzzles or pencils.
Make sure your children have a healthy meal before they go out to a party or trick-or-treating. They will be excited and may not want to eat but you can enhance their appetite by making a festive meal. Allow your child to make a pumpkin face by spreading grated cheese over a slice of bread. Let them make the face with vegetables they like. Place the face under the broiler just until the cheese melts and then serve. Soup is great with sandwiches. You can make a soup tureen by cleaning the insides out of a pumpkin and putting the soup inside. This pumpkin bowl could also be used for serving fruit.
Balance, variety and moderation are the keys to healthful eating. Halloween is the perfect time to teach moderation. Let your children choose a few pieces of candy to have on Halloween night and then choose a few pieces each day after that. Children need to avoid too many foods and drinks that are high in sugar. If they are eating too many high sugar foods, they don’t have room for the healthy foods that contain the important nutrients they need for growth and development.
Another thing to remember when all of the Halloween candy is in the house is that sugary foods contribute to tooth decay. The bacteria in our mouths like to eat sugar and that produces an acid. This acid is what eats away at teeth causing cavities. Since most children will be consuming sugar on Halloween and in the days following, encourage them to brush their teeth often.
Kids like Halloween because it is a festive day when they get to dress up and get treats. Enjoy the day, but don’t forget about moderation and healthy habits!
Last update: Tuesday, October 23, 2012