By Dustin Duncan
One fall tradition many look forward to is Halloween. It’s a time filled with trick-or-treating, costumes and, of course, candy.
It may seem difficult to eat healthy during this time, but Katie Funderburk, an Alabama Extension specialist and registered dietitian, said Halloween can be a great time to introduce new foods to children through kitchen crafts and themed snacks.
“Letting kids play with food or participate in cooking or preparation can actually help picky eaters try new fruits and vegetables,” Funderburk said.
Fun project ideas include making little pumpkins from clementine oranges or spooky ghosts from banana halves. Toothpicks or nut butter can be used to hold raisins or chocolate chips in place for the eyes.
Watch Halloween Candy Portions
For most kids, the best Halloween memories include going trick-or-treating and sorting through their new candy stash. While this may seem like fun, it’s important to keep portions of treats small and spread out over time, rather than allowing immediate consumption. This can help children avoid filling up before meals or getting a stomachache. It can also extend the Halloween fun over several days.
Funderburk offers the following tips to make Halloween candy last.
Serve a few pieces of Halloween candy as dessert after nutritious meals or offer pieces on a snack tray along with healthier options like fruit slices, cheese and crackers, or veggies and dip.
Create a snack bowl children can eat from when hungry. Include nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruit, granola bars, whole-grain crackers or trail mix with fruit and nuts. Throw in a few pieces of Halloween candy each day, waiting to restock the bowl until the next day.
Keeping candy out of sight will often cause younger children to forget about it. Store the candy in a safe place and pull out a few pieces at a time when appropriate. Avoid using candy as a reward or withholding it as a punishment, as research shows this can make the product more desirable.
Limit Sugar In Other Ways
Because of the increased opportunity for candy-snacking during the Halloween season, Funderburk said it’s a good time to think about other ways to limit added sugars and increase nutrient-rich foods and beverages in a child’s diet.
Offering water or milk instead of sugary beverages is one option, as is moving other sugary snacks to the back of the pantry or to a higher shelf. Additionally, incorporating a vegetable the child likes with dinner could help boost their nutrient intake.
Have Fun And Get Moving
No matter how it’s done, Funderburk said it’s important to have fun and enjoy family time, especially during the holidays.
“Cooking and crafting together in the kitchen and dancing to silly Halloween songs are great ways to make healthy food fun and keep moving during the holiday,” she said.
For more tips on nutrition, visit LiveWellAlabama.com or follow Live Well Alabama on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.