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The words “healthy” and “Halloween” don’t appear to fit together in the same sentence. Isn’t Halloween the time when kids run house to house to see how much candy they can gather? Then they come home, dump out their bag of goodies on the floor, and overindulge until they turn green. Any hip ghoul or ghost would turn up their nose at a health bar or apple on Halloween night. Well, if you are the type of parent who is concerned that Halloween isn’t the most nutritionally healthy night for your children, here are some steps you can take to help minimize the “candy craze”.

1.)    Real’ food first.  On Halloween night, feed your kids ‘real’ food before they go out and hit the neighborhood streets.  An extra-nutritious dinner before trick-or-treating will help decrease their appetite for sweets once they get home. A meal filled with nutrient rich foods like milk, lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is the way to go!

2.)    Consider Non-Food Treats.  Handing out treats like small toys is a great way to reduce the amount of candy children eat during Halloween. Plus, they’re fun! Some other ideas are stickers, pencils, playdoh, or bubbles.

3.)    Can Trick or Treating really be exercise?   Believe it or not – yes it can! Make sure children get enough physical activity to burn off excess calories.  Trick-or-treating can be a fun way to incorporate walking.  Plan a few extra loops around the neighborhood. This can tire out kids and prepare them to hit the sack when they get home!

4.)    Set Limits.  Set boundaries with your child on how many pieces of candy they’re allowed to eat on Halloween night.  The ‘come home, dump out all the candy and  have at it’ method is not the best. Allow your children to make their own selections, but tell them they can only pick a few pieces.

5.)    Why not milk?  Serving chocolate milk after trick-or-treating is a great, healthy treat.  It gives kids their chocolate fix that they so desire on Halloween night.  You can even warm up the chocolate milk for a great hot chocolate drink. Milk contains tryptophan which helps people snooze.  (kids included!)

With just a little extra planning , ‘Halloween’ and ‘healthy’ can fit in the same sentence!

(this blog first ran on October 26, 2009 by Jenni Browning)