How can you plan now to make 2015 your healthiest, happiest Halloween ever?
Get ready for a countdown — one that can make you and your children healthier as the days go by! Here at the beginning of October most of us are already getting excited and looking forward to fun fall festivities associated with the upcoming Halloween holiday. But as you decide whether to put together the latest “Super Hero” costume or to dress up as a spooky ghost instead, let me share some helpful tips to make sure you sail through October 31 this year enjoying all those great TREATS with no nasty TRICKS whatsoever. During the next two weeks right here in HEALTHY HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN I will share a “survival tip” every weekday to help you get ready for your healthiest, happiest Halloween ever. Be sure to come back each day to see new and helpful ways to celebrate and to enjoy high-level wellness at the same time.
>>> Nutritional considerations <<<
No doubt Halloween can be the scariest of all holidays when it comes to overindulging in high-calorie candy treats. The California Milk Processors Board now estimates that “an average Jack-O-Lantern [treat collection] bucket ends up carrying about 250 pieces of candy amounting to nearly 9,000 calories and close to three pounds of sugar.” In another study, as reported in a recent TIME.com article, Donna Arnett, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama – Birmingham’s School of Public Health, documented that in the group she studied, an average elementary schoolchild accumulated 3500 to 7000 calories worth of treats on a typical Halloween night. Projecting from research statistics, a 100-pound child who consumed all of those 7000 calories in a single-sitting sugar binge would need to walk briskly for almost 44 hours or play full-court basketball for more than 14 hours just to burn off those Halloween candy calories alone.
Yikes! That is a frightening prospect indeed, especially when you consider that Americans are expected to spend close to $2.6 billion on Halloween candy alone this year … and then you might recall reading also that more than ten per cent of our nation’s medical costs will be expended on treating obesity-related diseases alone.
>>> Safety considerations <<<
Remember too: Halloween hazards are not limited exclusively to the damage sweets can do to a child’s diet. Operation Safe Child, a community education outreach based in Maywood, IL, recommends the precautions below to minimize other risks and to allow everybody to focus on having safe fun — all treats, indeed, and and no tricks, whatsoever, to regret afterwards.Caution your children to travel in groups (preferably with at least one adult chaperone), to follow all safety rules and to take along a reliable cell phone (one with the telephone number pre-listed on SPEED DIAL where they can reach you immediately in any case of need) and also a flashlight if they will be out after dark. Make certain that they dress warmly and have unobstructed vision with any mask or facial disguise, and be sure that costumes, including footwear, are of an appropriate length and design to allow for safe footsteps. Do not permit horseplay or tricks among the children within your group while they are out collecting treasures. Limit their travel to safe, nearby areas. Caution them to stay away from unlighted alleys and other dark places. Do not allow them to take candy or money from strangers or to enter the home of anybody not well known to you beforehand. Know exactly what route they will travel and point out in advance where they can find safe haven along the way — even consider a trial walk in broad daylight a few days in advance as a dress rehearsal for the big event. Since the kiddos are traveling neighborhoods mostly on foot in search of treats, police reports document more child pedestrian accidents on Halloween than on any other day of the year; so, it might be a good time to practice street safety techniques in advance (e.g.,watch out for cars; look both ways before crossing the street) and even appoint an older child as the designated “Safety Warden” with special responsibility to watch out for your group along the way.
>>> Aim for moderation <<<
Even so, the holiday shouldn’t be all scary. If children generally eat well for the rest of the year, most experts agree that you can relax and let them gobble a little candy on Halloween and maybe even consume a few additional mini pieces for a few days afterwards. The key here, of course, is M-O-D-E-R-A-T-I-O-N. From nutrition experts weighing in on the topic, I have assembled some favorite tips to introduce healthier foods — even exercise workouts — into your trick-or-treat plans, and I’ve also tossed in a few suggestions about what to do with any excess “leftover loot” once the spooky holiday has ended.
In the time leading up to Halloween I will be sharing a new suggestion each weekday for you to consider as you make your holiday celebration plans. To begin right now, here is my very first recommendation — this one aimed at controlling how much calorie-loaded, refined carbohydrate D A N G E R you decide to acquire and stock in advance on your shelves at home:
If you plan to hand out candy, do not buy it far in advance. Purchase, instead, on Halloween morning to take advantage of last-minute sale prices — and to avoid the temptation to sample the fare beforehand. To minimize the candy wallop, always purchase the “fun-size” or “snack-size” portion options and look for lower-calorie brands such as Peppermint Patties, Twizzlers or Three Musketeers. For your own defense, pick a candy you do not like — one that will not tempt you to sneak a bite from the bag in advance.
And please come back to this HEALTHY HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN site again tomorrow to see the next in my series of innovative suggestions. Hint: expect to find new, creative (and even HEALTHY!!) alternatives to the “same old candy” treats for those little ghosts and goblins who will soon be ringing your doorbell.
With a final word of encouragement here, experts at the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remind us that celebrations such as Halloween can provide a chance to give out healthy snacks, get physical activity and focus on safety without ruining the holiday fun. Visit their website for additional specific suggestions to make your festivities even more fun and safer, too, for trick-or-treaters and party guests: http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/
More helpful online Halloween advice can be found at the following websites:
And finally, after reading all of these recommendations, you might also appreciate some of the surprising, entertaining information about Halloween, candy and general mayhem (from decidedly different viewpoints!) found in the following online articles: