Approximately one in three children are overweight or obese in the U.S., and approximately 10 percent of the nation’s medical costs go toward obesity-related diseases. When it comes to Halloween and trick-or-treating, nutrition is often the last thing on children’s minds. However, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure your children are snacking right at Halloween—and throughout the year.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends some non-candy alternatives to pass out to trick-or-treaters this Halloween:
- Fruit chews made of 100 percent fruit (and packed with Vitamin C)
- Trans fat-free animal crackers
- Sugar-free gum
- Juice boxes of 100 percent fruit juice
- Low-fat pudding
- Halloween stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, or other non-food items
Other foods, such as rice cereal treat bars and unsalted pretzels, can also serve as a good substitute for traditional Halloween treats, which are packed with sugar and fat. Make sure to read the nutritional labels when picking out healthy alternatives; look for items that are 100 percent fruit, lack trans fat, and whole-grain whenever possible.
Halloween is also an important time to discuss moderation with children, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says.
“Explain that you’re going to spread the candy out over a period of time and discuss beforehand when and how much candy your child will enjoy in a day,” an Academy press release states. “This agreed upon ‘treat schedule’ will make the days after Halloween easier for everyone.”
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However, the need for healthy snacks doesn’t end on November 1. After school, a child’s first stop is often the kitchen. After-school snacks are an important part of your child’s day, and with a few simple adjustments, you can ensure your children are getting the right nutrients (and not getting sick).
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that parents:
- Make sure children immediately refrigerate all lunch bags and leftovers
- Teach children to wash hands before preparing or eating a snack
- Make sure children use clean utensils
- Have children wash all vegetables and fruit, even if the foods will be peeled
Parenting, Martha Stewart, The Food Network, and Cooking Light all offer plenty of healthy after-school snack options. Use some of these healthy alternatives to switch up your after-school routine and give your kids a nutrition boost.