Control the candy without limiting the Halloween fun

Online Staff Report

From toddlers to teens, Halloween is a sweet opportunity for many kids to parade around in costumes and collect candy. For parents advocating healthy diets, it can be a struggle to find the balance between allowing kids to enjoy a few treats without overindulging after trick-or-treating. OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, a regional medical center, is sharing important advice to ensure a healthy and happy Halloween for area kids.

In the U.S. alone, trick-or-treaters accumulate approximately 600 million pounds of candy. Before parents start to throw out their kids’ pillowcase-bags chock full of sweets, there are a few useful strategies to take to combat the candy-craze without spoiling the fun.

A nutritious, fiber-rich meal before trick-or-treating will help kids stay full and satisfied throughout the night.

Decide prior to trick-or-treating the amount of candy that can be eaten when they return home and the days after. Establish what treats are age appropriate. For instance, toddlers should stay away from large hard candies, gum or small toys that could lead to choking.

Kids shouldn’t accept or eat goodies that aren’t commercially wrapped.

Make sure it’s understood that no candy is to be eaten until parents inspect it. This will help make sure kids don’t sneak more than they should, and provides parents peace of mind that candies haven’t been tampered with.

Determine a plan for what to do with excess candy after Halloween. Ideas could involve donating to a cause or saving until Christmas to use as décor for a gingerbread house.

Following Halloween, a fun way to ration the amount of sweets consumed is to create a game,” said Dr. Sreemdevi Ramakrishnana, M.D., pediatrician at OSF Medical Group — Rock Cut. “Have children swap a piece of candy for healthier snacks like dark chocolate, natural fruit leathers, organic candy that appeals to them; stickers or coloring books would be good alternatives, too. Parents can get creative and develop their own game that would fit their child’s interests.”

While it’s important to monitor nutrition on Halloween, parents should consider taking extra safety precautions when kids are strolling through neighborhoods. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the following tips:

Choose costumes that are bright and reflective, so motorists can easily identify them. It’s also a good idea to make sure costumes are short enough to prevent tripping or entanglement.

Make sure all costumes, wigs and accessories are flame resistant and weather appropriate.

Don’t allow children to wear decorative contact lenses without a prescription. This can cause pain, inflammation and infections, which could lead to permanent vision loss.

Parents or responsible adults should always escort children through the neighborhood. If older kids are going alone, map out an acceptable route ahead of time and require them to carry a cell-phone.

Never cut through alleys or yards, and remain on well-lit streets and sidewalks. Only approach homes that have outside lights on.

For more about OSF pediatricians or to discuss additional healthy Halloween practices with a physician, call (815) 639-8470 or visit http://www.osfmedicalgroup.org/pediatrics.

Posted Oct. 31, 2014

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