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USEP-OHIO PARENT TIP: Trade Halloween Treats

This brief Parent Tip is provided at no cost by United Services for Effective Parenting-Ohio, Inc. as a tool to assist parents, teachers, grandparents and all who help to care for and to raise our children. 

Halloween or harvest festivals are fun for families and are celebrated in many communities with parties, candy, and treats. The combined results of community trick-or-treat, school parties and well-meaning family and friends is a pile of candy large enough to make anybody sick and sugar-shocked. Now that the kids have bagged it, counted it and traded it – try to get it out of their hands and yours!

Parents, grandparents, and teachers know the dangers of childhood obesity, so here are a few ideas for trading the candy sitting in the kitchen cabinet for some better options!

What parents and teachers can do:

One Mom I know convinced her child’s teacher to print some recipes for success that created healthy treats for home, activity time at school, and recipes that parents could use for lunch boxes and snacks anytime. Try these ideas and activities at home and at school.

Talk with the kids about how foods keep us feeling good and fit. Candy and treats fill us with sugar, have no food value, and make us feel yucky:

“My brain feels bad” - Mental/emotional changes-Poor concentration, nervousness, feeling sad;

“My body feels bad” - Physical Changes-Low energy, stomach aches, intestinal discomfort, gas;

“I have a bad attitude” - Behavioral Changes - Anger, flaring tempers, argumentative

Offer to trade their treat candy for inexpensive things like – Markers, crayons, art supplies; games or small toys; nickels, dimes and quarters; stickers or stamps; party favors or books.

Create “let’s pretend games” that give kids practice, like these:

Let’s go out for fast food!

Do you want a soda or shake? NO! Low fat milk, juice or water are better. Will you super size? NO! It’s too much for my tummy!

Will we get French fries and other fatty stuff? NO! A salad or baked potato is much healthier!

Packing a take-along snack!

Will you pack some candy? NO! Fruits and veggies are better.

Will you pack chips? NO! Pretzels, trail-mix, whole-grain crackers, peanut butter and cheese!

Make and taste healthy treats like these:

Super Apples – Cut off top; core like a bowl; stuff-raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon; microwave.
Cinnamon Treats – Toast pita triangles; spread margarine; sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Yogurt Pops – Cut small hole in top of yogurt lid; push popsicle stick in and freeze overnight.
Banana Bites – Push on popsicle stick; dip in juice or PB+J; roll in granola, nuts or coconut.
Snackin’ Seeds – Wash/dry seeds;toast on oiled cookie sheet at 250-300 1 hr; add salt/seasoning.
Fruity Shakes – Blend 1 cup low fat milk or yogurt, banana or berries, 3-4 ice cubes, and honey.

Halloween Health and Safety Tips

For many people, autumn events like Halloween and Harvest Day are fun times to dress up in costumes, go trick–or–treating, attend parties, and eat yummy treats. These events are also opportunities to provide nutritious snacks, get physical activity, and focus on safety. Below are tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for trick-or-treaters and party guests.

Going trick –or-treating?

Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
Avoid trick-or–treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats
you eat.

Hold a flashlight while trick–or treating to help you see and others see you.
Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation
Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
Wear well–fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.
Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Otherwise, stay outside.
Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

Expecting trick–or-treaters or party guests?

  • Provide healthier treats for trick-or–treaters, such as individual packs of raisins, trail mix, or pretzels. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
  • Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity
  • Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could result in falls.
  • Keep candle-lit jack-o’-lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.

Follow these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for everyone!

Content provided courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.