And yes, the kids can still have FUN!
First off, Halloween is only 1 day of the year – not a week! If you keep it at that you really don’t have to worry about the unhealthy Halloween treats. One day won’t drastically affect your child’s health if they are generally healthy and eat a well-balanced diet. However, that being said, there are many ways to give your children extra support at this time.
- Maintain a well-balanced diet. Eat a variety of vegetables, protein, fat, grains, and lastly, fruit.
- Vegetables: think colors of the rainbow, with a special focus on greens.
- Protein: chicken, fish, beef, beans, legumes, etc.
- Fat: nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut, olive oil, sesame oil etc.
- Grains: whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, and buckwheat.
- Fruit: keep these to 1-2 servings/day because kids are getting excess sugar from Halloween treats. Go for the low sugar fruits like strawberries, raspberries, apples, pears.
- Drink lots of water.
- Ensure appropriate amounts of sleep leading up to Halloween. A well-rested child has a stronger immune system and less chance of getting sick.
- Think ahead! Create a plan with your family (prior to Halloween) for treats in the house. Agree on the number of treats and days allowed. Three days is a good time frame, with 3-6 treats/day (or whatever you decide!). Larger servings of processed treats and candy over a couple days are far less damaging to your children’s overall health than continuous daily processed treats that go on for weeks.
- Make healthy treats ahead of time. Swap out processed sugar and use honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar instead. Check out Pinterest for lots of healthy Halloween recipes. The kids may even enjoy helping too ☺
- Have a hearty dinner focused on protein and vegetables. This will start your child off with balanced blood sugar and decrease their appetite for candy.
- Dress warm! Ensure kids wear layers, and pay special attention to the trunk (back and stomach) and neck.
- Wear reflective bands or glow sticks to increase visibility for others around them, especially drivers.
- Have a plan in place in case your child gets lost from the group. Discuss this before things get exciting so they clearly understand what to do.
- Bring a water bottle. Staying hydrated will help compact the excess sugar.
- Remember oral hygiene! Have your children spend a little extra time brushing their teeth and flossing to ensure a clean, sugar-free mouth.
Dealing with the Aftermath:
Processed foods and excess sugar can affect many aspects of your child’s health. Following Halloween, you may see troubles with sleep, concentration, hyperactive behavior, digestion and elimination (especially constipation or diarrhea), skin (eczema), and headaches. The immune system often becomes compromised and children are more likely to catch a cold or flu. To counteract these negative effects, keep in mind the preparation tips and also think about these strategies:
- Allow extra time outside playing to help burn off the extra energy. The fresh air is also naturally enhances mood.
- Make roasted pumpkins seeds after carving your pumpkin! These seeds are especially great for the immune system due to their high zinc content – so eat up!
- Stick to the previously agreed upon plan – the time for treats won’t last long this way, and hopefully your family can maintain health.
- If you notice your children getting sick – prioritize sleep, diet, and water.
- There are many great remedies and supplements that can prevent and fight off a cold or flu. Book an appointment with your local Naturopathic Doctor to see what is the best option.
Halloween is more than sugary processed junk food. You can have lots of FUN with costumes, carving pumpkins, spooky music, scary movies, haunted houses, and other games. Your kids may even forget about treats (or simply eat less) if they are immersed in creative activities. Enjoy this time with your family and friends!
Good Luck and Happy Halloween ☺
— Dr. Kathryn Urquhart, ND