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Close up of a child smiling in a pumpkin patch

Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween

Dressing up in spooky costumes, decorating, and trick-or-treating are just a few of the fun activities that make Halloween a special time for children. But what if you’re trying to keep your family on a healthy track? The following suggestions will help you keep your family from overindulging on candy and sweets, while still enjoying the traditions of the Halloween season.

Plan activities that do not involve candy or eating:

  • Be creative by designing or picking out a costume together. Kids have active imaginations; therefore, they may enjoy the process of making or picking out their costume.
  • Decorate the house or front door. Put up fun age- appropriate decorations that celebrate the season such as spiders, pumpkins or ghosts. Visit a pumpkin patch, select pumpkins to carve or decorate. You can even save the pumpkins seeds and roast them for a healthy snack.
  • Plan a trip to a farm to pick apples, or go on a hayride. Take a scenic drive and enjoy the beautiful changing colors of the fall leaves. If your children are older they may even enjoy going to a haunted house.

Before Halloween night develop a Trick-or-Treat plan with your kids:

  • Before you start trick-or treating offer a healthy well-balanced dinner. This will prevent them from trying to satisfy real hunger with candy when they get back from trick-or treating.
  • Determine how many houses to visit and a start and end time.
  • Decide on the amount of candy they will be allowed to consume on Halloween night and each day after. This will prevent overconsumption and possible stomach aches from excess sugar.

What to do with the piles of candy after Halloween:

  • Have your kids make a list of their top ten favorite kinds of candy.
  • Sort the candy and have them pick their favorites out of the pile and then give the rest away.
  • Stick to your plan of how many pieces of candy they are allowed per day.

Maintain your healthy lifestyle:

  • Continue to offer healthy foods at meals and snacks. Remember the Myplate meal pattern.
  • Keep up with your regular exercise routine. Play outside with you kids as much as possible.
  • Model healthy eating yourself and teach your kids how the occasional treat can be worked into a healthy diet.

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About Mary Jo Haney, RD, CSP

About Mary Jo  Haney, RD, CSP Mary Jo Haney, RD, CSP, is a registered dietitian certified by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with a specialty in pediatrics. She received her Bachelors of Science degree at Pennsylvania State University and was an intern at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Mary Jo has worked at CHKD for over 20 years and is currently working in the outpatient setting helping address nutritional concerns of children and their families in the community.