Halloween Candy Cop: Enjoy the Sweet Stuff While Staying Healthy

(Photo by Trish Lease/Getty Images)

(Photo by Trish Lease/Getty Images)  (2004 Getty Images)

When it comes to consuming candy, Latinos actually fall behind other groups, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Still, the Halloween season can tempt even the healthiest of families to abandon their nutritious habits and overindulge in sweet treats.

Yet, even though Latino children eat less sweets, they tip the scale as one of the groups impacted the most by childhood obesity with nearly 40 percent who are overweight or obese. In fact, a recent study by Trust for America’s Health showed that 14.1 percent of Latino high school students are obese and 17.4 percent are overweight compared to 11.5 percent obese and 14.2 percent overweight White students.

According to the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) one out of two Latino children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes.

“This is the statistic that should be our wake-up call,” said Jennifer Ng’andu, deputy director of the council’s health policy project. “This is about making sure people have access to information and resources so that they can make healthy choices.”

It’s estimated that the average American eats 1.2 pounds of candy every Halloween. That is the equivalent of consuming 33 fun-size chocolate bars! The good news is there are ways to have a healthier Halloween without sacrificing the fun.

Here are 10 tips to keep families on a healthy track while still enjoying the chills and thrills of Halloween:

  1. Explain your goals. Before Halloween, explain your candy guidelines to your kids and your reasoning for them. Remind them that eating some sweets is okay, but only as a very limited part of a balanced and nutritious diet.
  2. Postpone buying Halloween candy until a few days before the holiday. That way there’s less time for it to sit around the house and tempt you or your kids.
  3. Buy “fun-size” candies or low-calorie/low-fat treats. Look for those that have only around 100 calories or less per piece.
  4. Pass out candy that isn’t your personal favorite. You’re less likely to overindulge in sweets you don’t like.
  5. Send your kids trick-or-treating with a full tummy. They will be less tempted to snack on their goodies along the way.
  6. Give your children smaller trick-or-treat bags. They won’t feel the need to collect as much candy if their bag or bucket fills up faster.
  7. Store the candy out of sight. Once your children have decided what candies they want to keep, let them pick a few special pieces to eat right away, then stash the rest out of sight and their reach.
  8. Encourage healthy foods first. When your children ask for their candy, tell them they must have something healthy first, like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. They may feel full afterwards and forget about their sweet tooth.
  9. Skip the candy altogether and pass out fun alternatives. Try handing out temporary tattoos, glow sticks, bubbles, crayons or plastic jewelry.
  10. Be a healthy role model. One of the best ways to limit your child’s sugar intake is to be a healthy role model. Substitute healthy snacks for treats, and your kids will likely be inclined to follow in your footsteps.

Halloween is a holiday filled with imagination and everything your sweet tooth desires. But it’s important to maintain control over your family’s health throughout the holiday season. Follow these simple tips and you’ll keep your family on a healthy road.

Zayda Rivera is a communications professional and freelance writer working in NYC who specializes in Hispanics living in the United States. 

You can reach her on Twitter: @RiveraZayda


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