Keeping kids healthier this Halloween

Posted at 5:01 PM, Oct 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-27 19:01:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Halloween means lots of candy and sugar for kids, but there are some tricks parents can do to control the candy craze and shift the focus from sweets to sweet times.

6-year-old Nora Brooks stays active by participating in weekly ballet classes and by having fun while eliminating empty calories with her family.

“We just try and change our family traditions so we can introduce fun things that aren’t centered on candy,” said Melissa Brooks.

The Brooks family sets expectations with candy before the kids head out trick-or-treating for that bucketful of candy.

Registered dietitian Ann Marie Shirley says simple steps can be taken to make a difference in kicking bad eating habits around the holidays. She suggests having kids eat dinner before heading out to trick-or-treat.

When kids bring Halloween candy back to the house, parents should read labels so they know which candy choices are better than others.

“Most of the chocolate candies you get half of those calories come from fat; granted all candy is empty calories but some may not be as fatty as others,” Shirley said.

Shirley suggests using the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” and keeping the treats stored in the pantry or kitchen to help curb snacking.

“Divide your candy into snack-size bags and give your kids one of these a day and they can decide what they want to eat and when they want to eat,” she said.

The Brooks say they curb the intake of too much sugar by shifting the focus of Halloween from the candy to the experience of dressing up and spending time with family and friends.

Instead of handing out candy with empty calories, consider giving trick-or-treaters Halloween stickers, trinkets or fruit snacks as a fun but healthy alternative.