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To Your Health: Have heart-healthy Halloween

Updated: December 1, 2012 4:38PM



With Halloween-trick or-reaters hitting the streets tonight, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to hand out to the tots.

Should you let the children have the sugar that they’re expecting or should you be the house on the block with the healthy options?

According to the American Heart Association, you may want to go the healthy route. Many children already suffer from “adult problems” such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. The problem has become so serious that today’s generation of children may become the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents.

To help prevent those diseases and teach your children how to make healthier food choices, consider these tips to keep the ghosts and goblins a little healthier along the way:

Remember to have a healthy meal before you go trick-or-treating. This reduces the temptation to “snack” while walking.

Make this a fun family physical activity event. Set a goal of how many houses you will walk to and then stick to it.

Think about a healthier version of treats to give out at your house such as mini boxes of raisins, 100 percent juice juice-boxes, snack-sized pretzels, prepackaged trail mixes, prepackaged dried fruits, crayons, stickers, silly bands, toothbrushes, bubbles, plastic spiders, or coupons to local frozen yogurt stores. Avoid using toys that could be a choking hazard.

Keep safe. Bring a flashlight while walking, only go to houses with the porch light on, inspect candy before allowing children to eat it and be on your way home before the streetlights come on.

Remember to stay in groups when trick-or-treating. Don’t allow your child to walk up to a house alone and always keep a watchful eye on where they are headed next. Use sidewalks when available, and use crosswalks when crossing busier streets.

Find the right size collection bag for your child. Steer clear of the pillowcase method.

Want to avoid candy and masses of kids? Dress your family up in their costumes and go see a movie, go to the toy store and have your child pick out a favorite toy or see if local malls have trick-or-treat within the stores. Local police and fire stations may offer this alternative as well.

Avoid the urge to buy on-sale candy in the grocery stores after Halloween.

So how do you deal with the excess of candy lying around your house come Nov. 1?

Pick out enough candy for one piece a day for five days and put those in the fridge. When your child asks for a piece of candy, make sure to pair it with a healthy snack such as an apple, a banana, healthy nuts, or celery.

“Buy back” the candy from your child with money or tokens they can trade in for a fun activity such as a day at the zoo, an afternoon playing at a local park, going ice skating or a day at the pool.

Some dentist offices have been known to buy back the candy from patients, so be on the lookout for that option.

For more tips on how to keep your family heart healthy, visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org.



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