Washington, DC– October 19, 2010 – Trick or treat! Ah yes, the sounds of the youngsters in their Halloween costumes resonates in the air this time of year, at parties and on October 31. Chocolate bars, gummy treats and candy corn are favorites among trick-or-treaters but serious consideration should be given to our children’s health when it comes to all the candy and goodies. How can parents keep Halloween enjoyable without all the unhealthy fat and sugar?
Berit Christensen, RD, LD, dietitian with the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) and Morrison Food Service, the hospital’s food service provider, says you don’t have to take the fun out of Halloween treats. Christensen has some suggestions for Halloween party treats that are yummy, fun, creative and healthy.
Christensen offers some suggestions from the FamilyFun Magazine. Here are some ideas:
Carrot Eyeballs – carrots shaped like eyeballs with pieces of cream cheese and black olives as the eyes (http://jas.familyfun.go.com/recipefinder/display?id=50282)
Spider Pretzels – with crackers, peanut butter, and pretzel sticks as the legs with raisins inside (http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/special/feature/famf0902spider/)
Snack-o-Lantern – Carved orange filled with fruit cocktail (http://familyfun.go.com/halloween/halloween-recipes/halloween-snacks/snack-o-lantern-784940/)
Banana Ghosts – White chocolate covered banana half with raisin eyes (http://familyfun.go.com/halloween/halloween-recipes/halloween-treats/banana-ghosts-715020/)
Salty Bones – Bone shaped breadsticks (http://familyfun.go.com/halloween/halloween-recipes/halloween-snacks/salty-bones-688986/)
"Making these snacks can be a fun activity for parents and kids," Christensen says. "And they offer more vitamins, less fat and less sugar than some other party treats."
After the party, 93% of kids under age 12 years go trick-or-treating, according to kidshealth.org. Of these trick-or-treaters, one in six is considered obese, according to cdc.gov. The average amount of candy collected by trick-or-treaters is 50-100 pieces, and 26% of homes hand out regular size candy bars (kidshealth.org) which average 250 calories each and can lead to ½ pound weight gain per week if one is eaten every day. To remove some of that scare from Halloween, remember that trick-or-treating can be a great form of physical activity as the kids are walking around the neighborhood, up and down stairs, and often in heavy costumes (eatright.org). "When trick-or-treating, skip every other house or walk to a neighborhood farther away to reduce the amount of candy (or calories) collected and to increase the amount of calories burned," says Christensen.
For those distributing treats at home, mix healthier snacks or non-food items in your bowl such as: whole grain cheddar crackers, fruit snacks made with 100% fruit and vitamin C, sugar free gum, animal crackers, cereal bars made with real fruit, individual fruit cups, low fat pudding cups, baked pretzels, pencils, pens, stickers, temporary tattoos, or spider rings (eatright.org). Fifteen percent of parents offer these non-candy alternatives, and 49% give out candy (kidshealth.org).
When trick-or-treaters come home, have them divide out their "favorite" and "not so favorite" treats and allow them to choose just a few of their favorites (eatright.org). Fifty percent of kids say their parents do not set limits on their Halloween treat intake, although 89% of parents say they do set limits (kidshealth.org). Without setting a limit, 20% of kids will eat all of their Halloween candy (kidshealth.org). "Besides preventing obesity, heart disease, and diabetes," says Christensen, "moderating Halloween candy intake is important in also preventing cavities."
Healthier candy choices include 1 small box of Wonka Nerds (50 calories, 0g fat, 6g sugar), 3 pieces Jolly Rancher (50 calories, 0g fat, 7g sugar), or 22 pieces Twizzlers Cherry Nibs (110 calories, 0g fat, 18g sugar). Compare to not as healthy 22 pieces Candy Corn (140 calories, 0g fat, 28g sugar), 1 "fun" size M&M’s bag (100 calories, 4.5g fat, 13g sugar), or 1 package of regular size Twix (280 calories, 14 g fat, 27g sugar).
"Consider the rest of your daily intake and decide if you can afford to spend your calories on candy. For the average growing child," says Christensen, "about 2,000 calories are suggested per day with 30% of calories coming from fat, or 66 grams, and added sugar should be limited as there is no nutrient benefit from sugar other than calories. Keep in mind calorie and nutrient needs vary for children and are different for adults."
"Parents can set an example by limiting the amount of treats kids eat during Halloween season which will hopefully help them develop appropriate portion control habits. Remember that treats can be a fun way to celebrate, in moderation, but should also be balanced with a nutritious diet and daily physical activity," Christensen says.
For more on these healthier Halloween options, go to www.nrhrehab.org
National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) is a private, not-for-profit facility located in Northwest Washington, D.C. NRH’s services are designed specifically for the rehabilitation of individuals with disabling injuries and illnesses such as stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury and disease, arthritis, amputations, post-polio syndrome, chronic pain, back and neck pain, occupational injuries, cancer and cardiac disease that require medical rehabilitation, and other neurological and orthopedic conditions. NRH admits approximately 2,200 inpatients annually, has appeared on the “Best Hospitals” list in U.S. News & World Report for 16 consecutive years and is currently ranked among the top hospitals in medical rehabilitation in America. NRH has the only CARF accredited specialty program for both Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke in the region. In addition, NRH’s Spinal Cord Injury Program has been designated one of only 14 Model SCI Systems of care in the country by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a part of the Department of Education. NRH is a proud member of MedStar Health.