As a registered dietitian, I have deliberated over the years how to handle the concept of Halloween.
With all the sugar, salt and fat being marketed directly to children, it sounds like every dietitian’s worst nightmare. Though I hate to admit it now, I considered being the fun police and handing out toothbrushes, fruit, or bottles of water. Luckily, my inner ten-year-old told me not to take myself too seriously.
Here are five thoughts I think can help us survive Halloween:
- FOOD IS MORE THAN FUEL. We don’t eat only because we are hungry or need energy. If food was simply nourishment, healthy eating might be a lot easier. We need to recognize, though, that food is fun, it’s social, and it’s culture. And Halloween is all of those things!
- NIX THE ALL OR NONE. Somewhere between having none of the treats and all of the treats there is a treat sweet spot. Consider the 80/20 rule. Eighty per cent of the time you make good choices that support your health and wellness and 20 per cent of the time you don’t.
- ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. How many treats are enough to enjoy Halloween? Probably less than all of them. Thoughtfully choose a few treats that will be most enjoyable and stash the rest in a place where they won’t catch the eye on a daily basis. Out of sight is out of mind (sometimes).
- MEET THE SWITCH WITCH. You’ve heard of the Tooth Fairy, but maybe you haven’t met her sister Switch Witch yet. Switch loves treats so she flies around on Halloween and swaps treats for toys or cash. Consequently, this results in better quality teeth for her sister.
- MORE TO FUN THAN FOOD. I finally arrived at the conclusion that there was a lot of space between being the fun police and being a sugar pusher. I chose to hand out non-edible fun on Halloween like stickers, pencils, and other dollar store trinkets. Skull ring, anybody?
As usual, there’s no right way to do it, but if you’re looking for an alternative to prying treats from your kids’ sticky hands while they cry that you’re ruining their lives, then I hope you’ve found some inspiration.
Put the “allow” back in Halloween and focus on eating well most other days of the year.
Ashley Hurley is a Registered Dietitian at City of Lakes Family Health Team in Sudbury, ON. Do you have questions about nutrition and healthy eating? Visit EatRightOntario.ca to email a dietitian for free!