By Chalene Johnson

I’m a big kid at heart, so Halloween is one of my all-time favorite holidays. I love to dress up and I make everyone else dress up, too! That’s the fun part. The not-so-fun part is dealing with sugar-fueled tantrums and keeping things healthy. I’ve read the articles suggesting that parents hand out boxed raisins or that crafty moms try filling hand-carved pumpkins with healthy fruit salad. Are you kidding me? The author of one article suggested that children select their favorite “piece” of candy and take the rest to a homeless shelter. I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Do we really want our nation’s homeless population all jacked up on sugar? Can you picture it? If I’m taking the time to seek out a homeless shelter to do something better for my community, I think dropping off a bag of mini candy bars would be last on my list.

Okay, and call me selfish, but honestly, as a chocoholic in recovery, I’m more concerned about my own overindulgence than I am my kids’. So here are a few real-world suggestions to help you and your kids create a healthier Halloween.

1.Buy Halloween candy October 30th. And not a day earlier. The less time the candy is in the house, the fewer days you have to exercise self-control.

2.Select your least favorite candy. Shopping the day before the big event nearly ensures that all the “good stuff” is gone. If you’re the person assigned to “man the door,” the last thing in the world you want to be doing is standing (unsupervised) next to a big bowl filled with miniature versions of your can’t-resist candy.

3.Use smaller Halloween bags. Half the fun of trick-or-treating is seeing how full and how fast you can fill up your goodie bag. Rather than using an empty pillowcase, try something smaller. This gives kids the feeling of neighborhood domination with half the loot!

4.Eat a good lunch and a healthy dinner. One of the biggest pizza nights of the year is Halloween. Who has time to cook when there are pumpkins to carve and kids to get ready? Make sure both kids and parents start festivities on a full stomach and healthy dinner. This will lead to far less sugar consumption on everyone’s part.
5.Chew gum. Those mini-size delights go down quick, don’t they? It’s easy to start throwing back candy bars like they’re Tic Tacs. Keep your mouth busy by chewing sugar-free gum and avoid the temptation.

6.Teach kids moderation. I’ll leave the parenting up to you. I personally believe that to truly teach moderation, you have to teach kids that it’s okay to have the occasional “splurge,” but to “overindulge” will only leave you feeling ill. Tell children how many pieces of candy they’ll be allowed that night. Stick to it.

7.A week of treats. This is something that works for us. I let my kids pick seven more pieces and have one per day, every day, for a week, on the condition that they’ve had an active day. This gives them control over their selection, something to look forward to, and another lesson in moderation.

8.Toss it. Go ahead, “tsk, tsk” your finger at me, call me a “waster,” but you won’t convince me that passing off your candy on someone else is a nice thing to do. You will have far more angst over gaining three pounds in one week than you will over dumping excess candy into the trash can.

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