Halloween stuff has filled the shops for at least a month now. When I was a child it was very lowkey and very few shops sold anything to do with it. Nowadays it has been commercialised and there are so many products available including food ones that are cashing in on the pressure to comply. The problem is many of these ‘treats’ are loaded with sugar and other ingredients that may not be the most healthy for our bodies, whether our digestion or teeth. It’s really important at this festival time to have some strategies in place to ensure your children don’t become sugar zombies. That said part of it is to have fun and as important it is to be nutritionally healthy it’s always important to balance that with enjoyment of life. Here are 7 tips to help you navigate the Halloween holiday.
- When you carve your pumpkin keep the seeds and eat them. They make a really healthy snack and are loaded with zinc which is good for the immune system and tryptophan, an important amino acid involved in converting serotonin for mental wellbeing. Ideas include adding a drizzle of olive oil or coconut oil and a sprinkle of sea salt or herbs and spices such as paprika to the seeds and then bake in the oven until toasted.
- Ensure the week before Halloween that you get some time to work out where you are going to walk around on your collections. It gives you some idea of which houses and neighbours are more likely to be friendly and also gives you and your family the opportunity to exercise so that if the sweets and treats do get eaten in quantity you have less chance of feeling guilty.
- Eat your regular meals on Halloween itself – have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t skip them with the thought that you can compensate for the sweetie (candy) calories later. If you and your family eat balanced meals during the day you are less likely to want to consume junk and will instead feel full. Think lots of salads and leaf-based vegetables as these have fibre and will bulk you up but without the calories. Also have a glass of water (and visit the toilet) before you leave. The more full you feel the better it is.
- Consider alternatives to sweets/candies at your own house. You can pick up rolls of stickers or stationery items for very little and these are as exciting to trick or treaters. It also means you are less likely to snack yourself. I know plenty of people who buy bags of sweets and chocolates in advance and then by Halloween have to buy them all again because what was in the cupboard didn’t stay in the cupboard but upped and somehow managed to get eaten!
- When it comes to eating the treats set a clock time that is the cut off for trick or treating and also for eating. This makes it easy to transition to bed time and is more comforting to your digestive system.
- Sort through the candies/sweets – read labels and for little ones you can always tell them the story that I had for my own daughter. In our house the Sugar Plum Fairy had to be left a number of sweets/candies for building the walls of Fairyland. That made it a lot easier to part with treats that I felt would cause reactions (e.g. artificial colourings/flavourings).
- Consider adding a mini toothpaste or a new toothbrush (toothbrushes need replacing every 3 months so use Halloween as a special time for oral health) to what you give to your family. If you set it up as part of the tradition then it makes it easier. Ensure your children drink water and that they brush their teeth really well before bed. If you have cheese eaters then have some mini cheese available (studies show that cheddar cheese can really help with tooth health) and do lots of swishing with water or oil pulling to ensure that teeth don’t have sugary plaque build up.
© 2015 Elizabeth Plant
Elizabeth is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, massage therapist and reflexologist who is currently studying advanced massage and manual therapy at the College of Osteopaths. She has always celebrated Halloween for fun and in her childhood used to carve potatoes and swedes (rutabaga) into lanterns as there were no pumpkins available.