Editor’s note: This post was updated on Oct. 28, 2020.
Halloween is just around the corner. This is the holiday that my children start planning for and dreaming about while we’re all still blasting the AC, barbequing, and splashing in swimming pools.
This year, my seven-year-old daughter suggested that Active for Life should have an article about how to stay active and healthy on Halloween, one of the sugariest days of the year.
So we started brainstorming ways that kids could balance out the abundance of not-so-good-for-you candy treats.
My daughter’s idea – and it’s a good one – is to eat a healthy dinner before trick-or-treating and make sure to be active that day.
That got us thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to get some ideas from other people in our community on how to stay healthy and active on Halloween? We posed the question to our friends and got some interesting responses:
- Q, age 6: I get to pick 7 treats from my collection to keep or I can trade all my treats for a small toy.
- Nicole, holistic nutritionist: As a nutritionist, I believe it’s important to let them enjoy the occasion and to discuss with them how they can have fun but keep themselves healthy too; it’s good to come up with a plan together that they have helped shape. We give our children the option of trading candy in for a toy and also limit the amount of intake. We know that sugar halts the immune system activity for about 3 hours after ingesting it, so our kids will be more vulnerable to getting a cold or flu at this time. To counter this, make sure to give them lots of immune-boosting fruits and vegetables. Taking probiotics and vitamin C would be a good safeguard too. To avoid the sugar high (hyperactivity) and low (crash), make sure they are eating proteins and fats with their candies.
- S, age 5: Before you eat your candy, have healthy stuff. Oh, I have a sneaky idea! Bring healthy stuff in your pockets and sneak it into your treat bag.
- Richard, publisher and editor-in-chief of Active for Life: For me, it always has been about teaching good “food habits and skills” to our kids. I grew up eating a lot of sugar and I’m still addicted. I eat well and am active now, but I still can’t resist those molasses kisses even though I know they’re bad for me. My wife and I didn’t want our kids to have the same sweet tooth, so we’ve talked to our kids from a young age about good food and bad food. I think it worked. Our kids are 9 and 11 now. They will eat candy at Halloween, but I know they will make good decisions. Last Halloween, my 9-year held-up a mini-pack of M&M’s to his mom and said, “Wow, look at how much sugar there is in this thing.” He ate the treat anyway, but he only had one. As I said, teach good habits and skills early and they will stick like a molasses kiss to your teeth.
- J, age 7: I think you should eat like maybe 3 jelly beans and then have a carrot. Have a bit of a lollypop and then eat another carrot or something. And so it’s like having a big snack of sugary stuff and healthy stuff; you are balancing it.
- Jonathan, president of Fitfix Junior: Instead of trick or treating host a Halloween party for your kids’ friends. That way you control the amount and quality of treats they are getting. [Editor’s note: Public health authorities in some areas have imposed limitations on social gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19. If this is the case where you live, try organizing a fun family Halloween celebration just for your kids in your backyard or living room!]
- Irena, great-grandmother: Stay home and go to bed.
- S, age 5: We can eat some healthy food while trick-or-treating and getting candy.
What we learned from our friends was that it’s okay to splurge a little on Halloween as long as you keep up your healthy habits.
And it’s probably a good idea to let go of the candy after a day or two. Maybe your dentist is one who will buy candy from their young patients.
We’ve also heard of the Halloween fairy coming to some houses to pick up the bag of candy at night and leaving a little toy in its place. If she leaves an active toy like a ball or a jumping rope, it will be even easier for kids and parents to strike a healthy balance this Halloween!
Do you have any ideas on how to promote a healthy Halloween? Post your comments below, or share your ideas on our Facebook page.
Download this printable PDF checklist of Halloween how-tos that you can put on your fridge!