Halloween is a time filled with candy and sweets for a lot of people, especially those trick-or-treating or attending parties. But, according to Christeena Haynes, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, it is possible to have a healthy Halloween.
“The first step is to eat a healthy meal before trick-or-treating or attending a party. This helps keep you or your child from getting too hungry, which can result in overeating candy,” said Haynes.
Haynes also recommends serving healthy treats like popcorn, granola bars, trail mix, raisins or pretzels instead of candy to trick-or-treaters or at a party. For children, non-food items like stickers, bookmarks and crayons are another great alternative to the usual candy.
Parents should also limit the amount of sweets eaten each day.
“Moderation is always the key. Use this time to teach your children the importance of eating a nutritious diet while still having treats on special occasions,” said Haynes.
One way to make sure candy is only consumed in moderation is to not keep the candy where it is easily accessible, like in a candy jar or desk.
“Storing candy out of sight makes it less of a temptation and helps prevent mindless eating,” said Haynes. “At the same time, you can save leftover candy for another time. It could be used to decorate gingerbread houses at Christmas or for an art project. Chocolate could be frozen and used for baking when needed.”
Candy can also be added to a nutritious snack mix with whole-grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruit, instead of eating just candy. These foods contain fiber, which help you feel full and satisfied.
“It is also possible to celebrate by participating in non-food related activities such as carving a pumpkin,” said Haynes. “With all of the parties going on, don’t forget to also stay physically active to help with your overall health.”
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact one of the nutrition and health education specialists working in the Ozarks: Christeena Haynes, in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; or Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Springfield, (417) 886-2059.