Halloween is an exciting time of the year for kids, but busy moms and dads may wonder how to manage the deluge of candy that comes home after a night of trick-or-treating. After all, how appealing are fruits and vegetables when compared to peanut butter cups and candy corn?
Since those tempting treats have now made their way into Halloween parties at school, after-school club celebrations and even costume parties at mom’s or dad’s office, what’s a parent to do when trying to keep kids from eating buckets full of candy this October?
Christie Rampone, professional athlete, four-time Olympic medalist, wife, and mother, knows the challenges that parents who value a healthy lifestyle face during the Halloween season. After all, with kids of her own, she realizes that healthy eating may be hard to prioritize when candy’s in town.
As a busy mom of two (Rylie, age 7 and Reece, age 3) and captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, she knows that planning ahead is key to staving off a candy overload during Halloween (or any other time). Below, Christie shares six tips that parents can use to help encourage kids to make healthy choices during this candy-filled time:
1. Talk to your kids
“This one may seem obvious, but kids sometimes need a reminder about what an evening of just all-candy can do,” says Rampone. “Just take a few minutes to gently remind them that a tummy full of candy can lead to a tummy ache and that all that sugar won’t provide them with the nutrition and sustaining energy that they need to have a great next day.”
Rampone advocates a strategy of two-way dialogue with kids to let the healthy message sink in. Why not ask kids to chip in with their ideas? For example, what negative impacts of too much candy can they think of? What ideas do they have to work in healthier choices? “You’d be surprised at the suggestions that your own kids can come up with, particularly when it comes to finding solutions,” Rampone says.
2. Help your kids establish a plan for their post Trick-or-Treat evening
That first hour after trick-or-treating can be one of the toughest on parents and kids alike. Parents might be frustrated finding yet another candy wrapper on the floor and struggling with their own candy temptations while kids can be crashing from an overload of evening fun and sugar.
“It could be smart to encourage kids to decide ahead of time how many pieces of candy they are going to eat after their trick-or-treating is done,” Rampone says. “This can vary by kid, perhaps for age, and even by family.”
Kids and parents might decide that after seven pieces have been eaten, it’s time to put the trick-or-treat bag away for the evening and focus on other things. They could even agree to additional pieces of candy tomorrow after an in-depth teeth-brushing follows candy time.
3. Set a maximum limit for the number of pieces of candy to have each day
For some kids, the day after Halloween can be the worst as they dream of eating all that stored candy in the bag, particularly since they now know how much they actually have.
Rampone suggests that parents set limits for kids, say three pieces of candy after school each day, and then ask them to eat or do something related to health after they’ve met that share. This could be eating an apple, downing a large glass of water, or heading outside for exercise and play, without any candy in tow, of course.
“Kids usually know when they’re about to overdo it, so help them by establishing guidelines in advance,” Rampone says. “Three pieces of candy can be a good limit as it allows kids to indulge a little, but may keep them from overdoing it.”
Most parents will not be alone in setting limits. A survey at KidsHealth.org shows that 82 percent of parents do set some kind of parameters when it comes to candy during Halloween.
4. Be an example
Remember that the message on healthy eating is going to be lost if kids see parents downing Halloween candy around the clock. Kids not only look to what their parents say, but also what they do.
“If you’ve set limits to the number of pieces of candy your kids can have a day, be sure that you adhere to those rules, too, “ Rampone says. “A parent can be a great role model to show how easy it can be to stick to a three-piece-a-day plan.”
5. Pack a punch by showcasing fruits and vegetables
Again, a strong parenting example is key. After a parent eats a piece of his or her favorite candy, they can go and grab an apple instead of following up with another piece of candy. Nothing ever has to be said -- the kids can just see mom or dad munching away on that healthy fruit.
“Sometimes just seeing a parent make healthy choices can be a motivator for a child,” Rampone says. “It may not change what they are doing at that moment, but it can be a subtle reminder about the kinds of healthy food choices they can be making at any time of the day.”
6. Help kids keep their bodies strong with an immune-strengthening supplement
Sugar is known to suppress our immune systems, so parents may want to think even more about what can be done to keep their kids’ immune systems strong during Halloween.
Besides encouraging healthy choices like fruits among all that candy, another idea is providing them with nutritional supplements like those that contain the immune-strengthening ingredient EpiCor. Just as school gets back in full swing, it’s smart parenting to give your kids’ immune system a leg-up.
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