After teaching nutrition classes to elementary school aged children for the last few weeks, I learned that one of their favorite things about fall is the Halloween candy. Not quite what I was getting at when I was telling them how much I loved fall because of all the new foods that were in stores. As we turned our conversation towards seasonal produce and what it means to eat foods at the peak of their ripeness, I couldn’t help but remember my childhood years and the pounds of candy I devoured each year on Halloween...CRINGE. Do you know that some sources maintain that children in the US consume anywhere between 4,800 to 7,000 calories on Halloween? And we know those calories are NOT coming from broccoli. We adults are also faced with the plethora of sweets around every corner. Between the bowl of candy in the doctor’s office and treats in the break room, you just can’t get away from sweets. Here are a few tips for a healthier holiday season from Halloween through New Year’s Day without missing out on all the fun!
- Bring your own treats to the party! Choose options like these homemade popcorn balls, adorable banana and chocolate chip ghosts and celery and clementine pumpkins or check out these healthy holiday party snacks.
- Hand out wholesome treats or toys to trick-or-treaters. Skip the sugary candy and opt for more nutrient dense goodies like whole-wheat cheese crackers, single serving nuts, fruit leathers or pretzels or ditch the food altogether and hand out toys like pencils, stickers, tattoos or glow sticks.
- Eat a well-balanced dinner. Before heading out to a party or taking your kiddos to a party, fill up on nutrient dense foods to help to avoid candy replacing dinner or overindulging in sweet treats. Choose one or two favorite desserts and remember to practice portion control.
- Enjoy some candy on Halloween night, then toss it, freeze it, or give it away.. Choose a few favorites to stock away for a sweet treat but get the rest out of the house. With great programs like the Halloween Candy Buy-Back program and the Ronald McDonald Charity Houses, you can donate unopened candy and enjoy a special treat of helping those in need.
- Stay active. If your party or holiday event is within walking distance and the weather is agreeable, walk instead of drive. Consider signing up for a Turkey Trot or Santa 5k to stay motivated throughout the hectic holiday season!
- Most important of all, remember that ALL foods can fit into a healthy diet and it’s all about moderation!