Is there a healthy way to celebrate Halloween? Suffolk health Nikki Edwards shares her top tips
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Halloween is the highlight of the year for anyone with a sweet tooth. But the toffee apples, lollipops and buckets full of sweets can also undermine all the hard work you do the rest of the year maintaining your kids’ healthy diet. EALife’s health expert Nikki Edwards looks at how you can all enjoy the holiday – guilt free.
Anyone with children will understand the perils of trick or treating.
You dress them up like little witches and wizards and send them out into the night, where they return a couple of hours later with a mountain of sweets.
Then, after they have gone to bed, buzzing with e-numbers, you dig into the sweet stuff yourself.
Yes, it’s a one-off. A single sugar-rush.
But although it’s OK to treat yourself once in a while, the trick is to keep it to a minimum.
And this of course applies to the children too.
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In this country we are facing an obesity ticking time bomb. We also have more teeth cavities in young people than ever before.
So curbing the quantity of junk foods your little ones scoff is a very good idea.
Based on the nutrition labels on popular sweets, the average child accumulates 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night.
And according to a recent report, a 100-pound child who consumed all of those treats – or 7,000 calories –would have to walk for nearly 44 hours to burn them off.
Puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?
But, don’t worry. I am not a complete party pooper.
I realise Halloween is about having fun. I just have a few solutions about how to make it a little bit less of an exercise in over-indulgence.
My top tips
1. Set your limits
Limit your child to a certain number of sweets on Halloween, then put the stash out of reach and allow them one a day until it has gone. Let your children know the limits beforehand so it doesn’t come as a nasty surprise.
2. Add balance
Make an agreement with your child. For every sweet they eat, they must also eat a piece of fresh fruit.
3. Use different treats
There are plenty of non-sweet alternatives to offer trick or treaters. Most shops have a ready supply of yo-yos, bubbles and temporary tattoos which you can even hand out to your neighbours beforehand, asking them to give them to your child instead of sweets! For some of us, this requires a little too much preparation but you could always trade your child’s sweets for toys when they get home, as long as you don’t eat their sweets yourself!
4. Feed them first
The best way to limit the amount of sugar your child consumes on Halloween night is to give them a good meal before you set off. And leave out pudding!
5. Encourage sharing
Suggest your child shares out her bounty among her friends.
6. Buy it back
Consider offering your child cash in exchange for their Halloween goods. Perhaps they are saving for a special toy? This can give them an incentive to swap. Again, this is not an excuse for you to eat their sweets yourself!
7. Be a role model
Restrict the number of sweets you eat. To help avoid temptation, buy sweets at the last minute, choose varieties you dislike and bin any leftovers.
8. Talk about it
Discuss how bad eating excess sugar is with your children. Make sure they understand the risks – not just to their general health, but to their teeth as well. Remind them that sweets should be eaten in moderation and to always stop before they feel full or sick.
9. Remove the packaging
Children are suckers for brightly coloured wrappers. By stripping all the sweets of their packaging, you might succeed in making them seem less attractive. (OK, it’s a long shot!)
10. Give it away
When children get home from trick or treating, have them make two piles: one to keep, another to give away. Consider donating to a local old people’s home or food bank.
11. Have a party
A great way to restrict the sweets your children are given by strangers and give you ownership over what they consume. Make plenty of savoury snacks – but give them a ghostly twist with some shape cutters. Happy Halloween!
For more info on Nikki’s lifestyle programme visit www.deluxenutrition.co.uk