Thursday, October 29, 2009

Healthy Halloween Ideas That Work for All Parties too!

Check out these great ideas from Clemson University for a healthy Halloween but are great for parties of all kinds.

Halloween is a festive day that kids enjoy, because they get dressed up and get treats.

Enjoy the holiday with your kids, but carefully plan what you will do at your house to assure that healthy eating habits are practiced. This can be challenging, since the goal of most children is to get as much Halloween candy as possible for their own private stash.

Help kids enjoy Halloween without overindulging. If you and your family eat sensibly all year, then kids know how to make wise decisions when they are tempted to overindulge with unhealthy foods.

Don't send your children trick-or-treating on an empty stomach. Make sure they eat a good healthy meal beforehand to reduce the urge to snack.

Trick-or-treat bags that children carry should be appropriate to their size. Older kids can carry larger bags, but not as large as a shopping bag or plastic garbage bag.

Limit the houses your children can visit to a two or three block radius. That way the treats will most likely come from neighbors and friends, and the moderate amount of treats will be manageable.

Instruct children to wait until they get home to eat any of their goodies so that you can inspect them first. Let them keep only treats that are wrapped commercially. Inspect and throw away any commercially wrapped treats with signs of tampering- tears in wrappers, tiny pinholes, unusual appearance or discoloration.

You don't have to pass out high calorie candy to trick-or-treaters at your house this year. Give them a variety of fun, non-candy alternatives to promote health rather than encourage unhealthy choices.

Healthy Trick-or-Treat Alternatives
Childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate, doubling over the past 30 years. Eating in moderation and becoming more physically active could reduce obesity rates in children.

When trick or treaters ring your doorbell, what will you give them? Try nutritious, tasty foods and non-food options, including items that get children up and moving to use the extra calories they consume.

Make Halloween a healthier and more inclusive holiday for children and adolescents with diabetes and other health-related dietary restrictions by offering non-sugar treats.

Healthy Food Treats: Think outside the box when choosing treats for trick-or-treaters or party-goers. The calories in all those bite-size Halloween treats add up quickly. Four "bite size" chocolate bars contain approximately 320 calories, 25 jelly beans have 140 calories, and 20 pieces of candy corn add up to 100 calories.

There are other treats that are lower in fat and sugar but may provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. The possibilities for healthy food treats are endless. Set a good example for your own children and the neighborhood kids by passing out healthy treats like these instead of giving them candy.

cereal bars
snack packets of dried fruit, baked pretzels, nut and seeds (e.g. peanuts*, unsalted almonds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds)
trail mix
packages of low-fat crackers with cheese or peanut* butter filling
animal crackers
gold fish crackers
graham crackers
Cracker jacks
100 calorie packs of various products
beef or turkey jerky
single serve boxes of ready-to-eat cereal
raisins and chocolate covered raisins
fig cookies
sugar-free gum or hard candy
gummy candies made with real juice
mini boxes of raisins
individual juice drinks (100% juice)
snack pack pudding
Jello with fruit
bean dip
single-serve packets of low-fat microwave popcorn
sugar-free hot chocolate or apple cider packets
*Be careful of peanut allergies.

Fresh fruits (e.g. apples, bananas and oranges) are very nutritious treats, but they are no longer safe options. Remember that individually wrapped items are best.

If you choose candy for treats, look for those that are lower in fat and sugar. Choose bite-size candy bars based on the least amount of fat and calories per serving. Better choices are: 3 Musketeers; 100 Grand Bar; Butterfinger; Milky Way; Raisinets; Starburst and York Peppermint Patties. In addition, consider healthier dark chocolate versions.

Non-food Treats: Children also will enjoy non-food treats** like the items typically given in birthday goodie bags.

small toys and pocket-sized games
glow sticks
costume jewelry (plastic rings, necklaces and bracelets)
funny Halloween glasses
false teeth
miniature magnifying glasses
tiny decks of cards
small stuffed animals
pencil toppers and fancy erasers
stickers, including reflective safety stickers
rub-on or stick-on temporary tattoos
coloring tablets
paint brushes
pages from coloring books
children's magazines or comic books
bottles of bubbles
coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
fake money
used books
coupons from a yogurt store or juice bar
**Some treats fit all ages, but small items should be limited to kids over age three.

Treats to Promote Activity: Encourage kids to be more physically active by giving small, inexpensive toys to get them up and moving.

a bouncy ball
a jump rope
sidewalk chalk for drawing a hopscotch or foursquare game
a beanbag for hacky sack
a plastic or foam flier

Reviewed and adapted for use by Janis G. Hunter, HGIC Nutrition Specialist, and Katherine L. Cason, Professor, State Program Leader for Food Safety and Nutrition

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