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Halloween CAN be healthy (UPDATED to include giveaway)

Halloween is almost here, and I expect my phone to ring. Almost every year, this is the week that a news reporter or TV anchor wants to interview a registered dietitian (RD) about candy. I think they expect RDs to either be the food police or to give their audience the permission to indulge.

"Why select Halloween?" is my first reaction. Americans enjoy every holiday with candy. Within days of Halloween, the Christmas candy will appear on the shelves. The first of January, the candy for Valentine’s Day appears. Then it is time for the Easter candy.  So it goes.

Since candy surrounds our environment, I think the best approach is to manage it. Some tips for this holiday:

? Place emphasis on the costumes instead of the candy.
? Talk in the third person to your children about all the candy.  Instead of demonizing the candy, discuss that you read an article about how much fun it would be to have two or three of your favorite candies immediately after trick or treating, but to save the rest to enjoy one or two pieces after dinner each day or pairing the candy with a fruit for a snack.  Parents and adults should set a good example by following the above suggestion too!
? Choose a healthier version of treats to give out at your house.  Some examples: Halloween size goldfish crackers or Teddy Grahams, snack size pretzels, snack size 100% juice-boxes, individual size packets of hot chocolate, sugar free gum, and animal crackers.  I would suggest mini boxes of raisins or packets of craisins, but that always makes adults’ eyes roll or faces frown!  But children may like it.
? Non-food items like small containers of bubbles, crayons, stickers, or silly bands.
? Be sure to have dinner before trick or treating.  It helps to reduce snacking while walking.
? Avoid the urge to buy extra bags of on-sale Halloween candy.  Not to buy is easier than saying “no” every time you walk by the candy jar in your home.  My clients and patients often tell me that candy “talks” to them.  Plan your home environment for success.

Halloween is a fun time for children, adults and their families.  I like to see those lions, tigers, cookie monsters, witches, football players, and other ghosts and goblins that come to my door.

So what is this dietitian giving children for Halloween, you ask?  Teddy Grahams and snack size pretzels.

UPDATED: 10/22/2012
I am going to be at the Just for Her Holiday Expo this weekend at Omaha's Century Link Center (10/26-28) - and I'd like to give away a pair of tickets to one of my lucky readers. But rather than just give them away, I'm going to ask that you do something to earn them first. To enter to win, all you have to do is reply in the comments of this post with one healthy item you plan to purchase this year for Halloween (one item per comment, up to five comments per person). The sky is the limit for healthy options!

I'll  announce the winner, drawn at random, right here on Thursday. Good luck!

CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team
CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team

These blogs are written by members of the CHI Health Nutrition Services team.

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