Guest Post By: Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
On average, each American consumes more than three pounds of candy around Halloween. Though it‘s easy to indulge, doing so can lead to poor dental health, spikes in blood sugar, weight gain and ultimately, encourage unhealthy eating habits. Knowing that nearly 41 million children ages five to 14 go trick-or-treating annually in the U.S., families must keep in mind the ways to ensure a safe, happy and healthy Halloween.
Halloween Safety Tips
Children are twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking Halloween night compared to any other time throughout the year. With this tragic statistic in mind, adults and children need to be aware of their surroundings and be aware of other existing hazards.
- Dress Appropriately: Make sure costumes fit true to size to avoid the dangers of tripping or blocked vision. Adding reflective tape onto the costume is also a handy way to keep children visible to oncoming cars and other pedestrians. Check the weather and layer clothing under costumes appropriately.
- Examine Treats for Tricks: Parents should inspect their child’s goodie bag for open wrappers or treats that may look suspicious. Be cautious of treats that may contain allergens. Any pieces that raise hesitation should be thrown out.
- Take Caution Walking or Driving: In addition to wearing reflective clothing, giving a child a flashlight is a great way to make sure trick-or-treaters are seen by drivers on the road. Children should also be familiar with simple traffic rules, such as stopping and looking both ways before crossing the street. Steer clear of unfamiliar areas and always stay in well-populated areas.
- Trick-or-Treat Safely: One of the most important rules is to never trick-or-treat alone. Younger children should be accompanied by a parent while older kids travel in groups. Only approach houses that are well-lit. Homes that are dark or do not have Halloween decorations, are often not participating in the holiday. Also, remind children not to enter a person’s home at any time.
Healthy Halloween Treats
Incorporating healthier meals and snacks is important all the time, but especially when sugary treats and empty calories are in abundance from trick-or-treating and themed classroom parties. These fun recipes can still have everyone in the Halloween spirit while keeping a healthy lifestyle in mind.
- Healthy Pumpkin Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins: Muffins are a tasty, quick breakfast option to start Halloween on a healthy note. Kids are more inclined to eat something they know and enjoy, so this is a great way to sneak in a serving of hidden vegetables. Zucchini is an excellent source of magnesium and vitamin C while also being low in carbs and calories.
- Mummy Eggplant Pizzas: Eating a nutritious and filling dinner before trick-or-treating can help control the amount of candy eaten later in the evening. These mummy-inspired pizzas are great for kids, festive and portion-friendly—better yet, something they can help pull together!
- Orange Jack O’Lantern: Fruit Salad or Greens Salad: Practice your pumpkin carving skills as a family with this sweet and simple recipe. Fruit provides sweetness without added sugars and an Orange Vinaigrette Salad Dressing pairs perfectly with the savory greens salad filling.
- White Chocolate Boo-nanas/Halloween Boo-Berries: With the busy nature of Halloween, consider these recipes that require just three ingredients. For additional sweetness, try dipping the fruit in honey or vanilla Greek yogurt. Eating enough fruit is important to consume essential nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate.
Grace Derocha is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.