You might wonder if “healthy” and “Halloween” even look right next to each other. Anyone who has school age children and lives in California is aware of the fact that California changed the Wellness Policy (nutrition standards) for school years ago. That’s quite a statement! They recognized the overall poor health of children and started working on making a difference. Personally, I was thrilled to hear the news. I am an advocate for children’s health and I couldn’t be happier that California was paving the way for a healthier America!
Writing a column about nutrition and health during the month of October when Halloween is at the top of the list is an interesting undertaking. The good news is that it works! The reason: we all want our children to be happy AND healthy. That doesn’t change on Halloween night.
On Halloween, that one special day, our kids get to be something (or someone) new. They get to play, explore, pretend. So do we! What a treat! Who doesn’t like to do that? That’s the “happy” part.
The other side of Halloween … is candy. It took me one Halloween with my oldest son when he was very young to realize that eating candy while trick-or-treating was not a good plan – at least not for our family. Meltdown, fatigue and sugar overload didn’t go hand-in-hand with the fun of gallivanting on trick-or-treat night. Since then, our general rule was no candy eating during trick-or-treating (maybe one towards the end of the night as the kids got older) and only a total of one candy eaten the whole night (after all wrappers are checked for quality/safety control). Our kids didn’t even squawk about it. It’s just what we did. (As they got older, our parameters adjusted.)
What I find amazing is that within 1-2 days, my kids totally forget about the candy they collected on Halloween night. They love the pile the night of Halloween – that is quite an accomplishment. But they really aren’t interested and didn’t seem to have an investment in eating the candy down the road. Whew! Thank goodness!
Halloween is really more about the experience of dressing up, going out with friends and family, checking out costumes and decorations, saying “trick-or-treat,” and seeing how much candy you can collect. It’s really not about eating the candy. Something to think about.
So, I say enjoy and explore and have the time of your life with your kids. Set boundaries and have conversations, in advance, about when and how much candy can be eaten. And … very important … make sure they have a good solid dinner before going out trick-or-treating. It makes a huge difference for them. The night goes better. They aren’t eating candy because they are hungry. They have more fun. You have more fun. It’s just a good plan.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!!