Holidays are such a wonderful time to spend with your friends and family. They celebrate the seasons and give us an opportunity to have fun and be silly with special outfits, drinks, and of course food! But when you stick to a certain diet for yourself and your family, it can be challenging to feel included in typical festivities. This is especially hard for kids who want to partake in all of the festivities and rarely think about how bad it is for them to sit and eat gobs of sugar all night. As parents, we know that they will pay the price later with tummy aches and more. If you’re hoping to make this year’s Halloween a little healthier, and still have fun at your own neighborhood gatherings, community events, and school parties, here are five easy tips (and tricks) to help you!
Eat a healthy meal first. This is true for almost any holiday event! Whether it’s trick-or-treating or going to a party, make sure your kids go on a full stomach so they’ll be less likely to fill up on sugary snacks. On the day of school parties, make a filling, nutritious breakfast, and send them to school with extra special healthy lunches. Pull out your whole toolbox for this one! We’re talking carved fruit to look like spooky jackolanterns, cookie cutters for fun shaped finger foods—everything. Your kids won’t want to miss out on this lunch, which will help them feel satisfied and loved all afternoon
Send your own snacks. Whenever possible, send your own snacks. Even if you know that your children are going to be eating candy and cupcakes at their holiday parties, at least you can send them with some more balanced foods and encourage them to get their friends to try.
Plan or attend a party that’s more in line with your lifestyle. Many of us have friends who understand why we’ve shaped our habits and lifestyles for healthy living, and they either do the same or are at least supportive and understanding. You don’t want your kids to feel left out, so if they’re not participating in other events, give them something else that’s fun. You might be able to get some of their close friends and families to join in, too. Not many parents like the idea of their kids getting a heavy dose of sugar either trick-or-treating or going to a party, so I’ve found it’s a welcome invitation when I invite people to celebrate holidays with us and have a nutritious night of festivities!
Enlist the help of professionals! It never hurts to make sure a trip to the dentist falls before Halloween, and ask their help in making sure to explain to your kids why their dental health is so important, and how candy is bad for their teeth. It doesn’t have to be a big scary lecture, but just a simple reminder that a healthy smile starts with a healthy diet is a nice thing to reinforce.
Finally, just talk about it beforehand. Tell your children that you want them to enjoy the holiday, but not eat lots of candy and junk that will make them feel sick and sluggish. Ask if there is anything extra fun they would like to bring as a treat or eat before a party, and see if you can accommodate their requests. It’s so important for children to feel loved and respected as humans who have their own desires and opinions. Asking them to be involved in your holiday planning can go a long way!
For your healthy Halloween toolbox, here is a great recipe that kids love, and would easily fit into any festive party platter spread!
1 cup pecans
1 cup pitted dates
5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa or raw cacao powder
4 Tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 Tbsp maple syrup or brown rice syrup
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1/4 tsp sea salt
Place only the pecans in food processor and process until they become small and crumbly. Add in the dates and process again until the mixture sticks together and is well processed. Add remaining ingredients and process again until the mixture turns a lovely, chocolatey dark brown. Stop processing before it gets too buttery. (There should still be air between the small bits so that you can press them down into the brownie pan.) Dump mixture into your desired pan and press down firmly (with clean hands). Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving, if you prefer. They’re much easier to slice when chilled!