As you know, childhood obesity is still on the rise. It seems to be a never-ending battle to keep your kids away from sugar filled treats. There seems to always be parties, special occasions (that happen more than occasionally), and a lot of eating out. Halloween is the epitome of all gluttony. So, what do you do? Other than giving kids candy, there are things that they can do other than get that “sugar high.”
Here are a few ideas:
Trade Candy For Toys – I actually learned this idea from a child psychologist a few years ago. This is how it works. Go ahead and do the regular door-to-door Trick or Treating. Once you have all the candy, you can give your child the option of trading in candy for toys (or cash). You can make each piece worth a certain dollar amount to apply to a toy or have them trade in their entire loot for one really nice toy. Be sure you mention the idea before you actually take them out. This will give them the opportunity to think about what they want. You’ll probably be surprised that your child would rather have a toy (something that lasts), over candy.
Go To An Event – Many churches and community centers are having events on Halloween. They’ll be some candy there, but the kids are more into playing games and stuff. You know, vigorous activity. Check with you church, synagogue, or local community center to see what they’re doing.
Go To A Movie/Rent a Movie and have a Party – At the movie there will still be some treats, but it will be a heck of a lot less than what you would get trick-or-treating. If you rent a movie and have a small party of friends at your home, you can have more control over what your child eats (popcorn is a good idea). They may even enjoy it more than going from one house to another anyway.
Give something other than Candy – At Wal-Mart, at a dollar store, or online, you can buy tons of little boxes of stickers, removable tattoos, and Playdoh and put them in decorative little plastic bags. This is something that my family does each year and it’s a big hit. Kids come back to our house trying to get more!
Do a Combination of These Ideas – You don’t have to stick to one particular idea. If you have to give candy, that’s cool. Just consider mixing it up with other things.
Before I get blasted by the “let kids be kids” crowd, let me once again remind you that there is a predominant obesity epidemic in children. The tradition of Trick-or-Treat has only been around for a short period of time (origins of Trick-or-Treating), of which was mostly driven by the candy industry. The origins of Halloween actually involved more apples (which explains candied apples) and other real foods as it celebrated the fall harvest.
I’m all about kids dressing up and having fun, however, it can be achieved without candy. In my experience it’s not the kids who complain about me not giving candy, it’s the parents (go figure). Considering the situation we are in with childhood obesity, isn’t it about time we create a new tradition?
Kelly Huggins, A-CPT
Exercise Science, B.S.