On the home front, kids are already dreaming of Halloween. They love thinking of a perfect costume, imagining dressing up, and thinking of all the candy and treats that lay ahead. Moms and dads, however, dread the onslaught of sugar that October 31st can bring. From now through the New Year, normal, everyday good eating habits often get sabotaged. Make a resolution NOW to end 2013 in a healthier way.
Encourage your kids to consistently eat foods that are healthy for their bodies. Although treats seem inevitable, moderation is key. Our bodies don’t work properly and we don’t feel our best when we are bogged down with sugary drinks and candy. Furthermore, sugar may be linked to a number of long-term health problems, including worsened cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity (not to mention the havoc wreaked on teeth!). Teaching your kids from an early age to identify good-for-you foods versus not-so-good-for-you foods will allow them the chance to make healthy choices throughout life. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional sweet, day-to-day habits should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains – even after the bags full of candy roll home.
Another problem we face around Halloween time is sleep. Kids need 10-12 hours of sleep depending on their age, and this applies both during the week and on weekends. Unfortunately, trick-or-treating can push bedtimes back often by several hours. In general, try to get activities started earlier in the evening or afternoon so that your kids can stick to their normal bedtime routine. Get homework done soon after school, set an earlier dinner time, and allow for some downtime after dinner so that your child can get a good night of sleep before facing the demands of a new day. As for trick-or-treating, starting earlier will allow for better daylight visibility and keep your child’s bedtime as close to normal as possible.
After Halloween is over and the pounds of candy are sitting around (more than most should eat in a year!) think of alternative uses for that candy! Many businesses offer to collect or even buy back some of that candy to send overseas to military personnel. Have your child pick a certain number of favorites and donate the rest! Alternatively, get out your hot glue gun and glue candy onto a wreath, or have your kids use craft glue to make a candy mask or picture. (Of course, don’t eat candy that has been glued on a craft). Be creative and your kids might forget about eating all that candy and have fun playing with it!
Enjoy trick-or-treating with your kids but keep candy consumption in check and stick to your normal bedtime routine to keep everybody feeling their best during this holiday season.
Written by Darby S. Petitt, Ph.D.