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As a child, which houses were your favorite stops on the trick-or-treating trail? The ones where you got boxes of raisins or the Snickers® candy bars? It’s a no-brainer. The candy won out over the healthful snack every time. Interestingly enough, Halloween traditions are changing due to increasing concerns about the growing obesity epidemic in children.
Why is childhood obesity is on the rise? Quite simply, children are exercising less and snacking more on high-fat, high-sugar foods.
“Children are bombarded by television ads for junk foods, which they naturally beg their parents to buy,” says Palmetto Health Heart Hospital cardiovascular dietitian Roberta Jupp. “Kids are eating more calorie-dense, nutrient-poor snacks that cause blood sugar swings and trigger more snacking. Getting kids to eat healthy, especially around Halloween, can be a challenge for parents.”
Parents play a key role in shaping children’s attitudes toward food and physical activity. “The foods in your kitchen are the ones your children will learn to eat, so having a fridge and pantry filled with healthy foods is crucial to developing a healthy diet. This includes setting healthy examples during holidays,” Jupp says.
So what can a parent do for a healthy Halloween? For trick-or-treaters, Jupp recommends offering goodies that are as natural as possible, such as small boxes of raisins or apples. Next would be small bags of low-sugar items, such as pretzels, fish-shaped crackers, or pre-made trail mixes.
For school or church-sponsored parties, Jupp suggests bringing prepackaged healthy treats or homemade low-sugar cookies, bread, or muffins prepared with fruit and finely-chopped nuts.
This Halloween, keep in mind that while your child will get that Snickers bar from the neighbor across the street, you can treat your kids to tasty, healthy goodies—without tricking them.
HERE ARE SOME HEALTHY SUGGESTIONS
• Mini-bags of pretzels
• Cheez-its® crackers
• Cheese and cracker packs
• Sugar-free gum
• Juice boxes (100 percent juice)
• Small packages of dehydrated fruit, such as raisins, apples or peaches
• Instant cocoa or cider mix packets