NEW YORK–()–While it might be known as a “spooky” time of year, October also is Children’s Health Month, serving as a great opportunity for parents to help children implement healthy nutrition, lifestyle and physical activity habits. Nicole Avena, Ph.D. Nutrition Expert and author of , offers her advice to give kids something actually “good to eat” instead of sugary sweets this season.
“Under the current conditions, many children won’t be going out to trick or treat, however, October is still filled with Halloween candy and sweets. Since this time of year also coincides with Children’s Health Month, there lies an opportunity to take action and make sure you are doing all you can to protect and empower children, by giving the lifelong tools and knowledge to practice balanced nutrition and holistic health,” says Avena.
Some of Dr. Avena’s Healthy Halloween advice includes:
- Avoid Food Traps. Halloween is just the start to the holidays, and it’s easy to overeat at this time of year. Avoid holiday food traps; plan and have healthy foods and snacks easily available – if attending a Halloween party, bring a fruit or veggie tray with you. It is okay to celebrate – just celebrate for the day, not the entire month!
- Get the Kids Involved. One way to make lasting changes to children’s eating behaviors is including them in the decisions surrounding food and educating them along the way. Have kids help with meal planning, shopping, and preparation so that they can feel empowered to try new foods and feel proud of the food they have helped to make.
- Try a Children’s Supplement. It is not always easy to get all the micronutrients needed to stay healthy – especially for picky eaters like kids – that is where a vitamin supplement comes in. A great pick is , which are chewable, adorable, and taste great – transforming daily multivitamin supplements from a chore to fun treat.
- Hydrate. Children do not always recognize they’re thirsty and may forget to drink water. Parents should look out for symptoms like headaches, lack of concentration, dry lips or mouth, constipation, or lethargy. For children under 8 years of age, the recommended amount of water is at least 4-6 glasses of water which increases to a minimum of 6-8 glasses for children older than 8 years. If they don’t like water, add slices of fruit and let them choose their own special cup to make it more exciting.
- Use Alternatives to Halloween Candy. If still trick-or-treating this year, instead of giving away Halloween candy, consider a healthier alternative. Some fun and festive ideas are glow sticks, string bracelets, or even temporary tattoos. Another nutritious option is giving out Clementines, oranges, or tangerines and decorating them like Jack-O-Lanterns using non-toxic ink.
- Make Sure Kids Get Enough Sleep. Without enough sleep, children can feel tired and cranky, even foggy. Many children get about 9.5 hours of rest a night, but experts agree that most need ten or eleven hours each night. To help give kids the sleep support they need, consider using , which are non-habit forming, natural ways to help them fall asleep.
“Research tells us that over-consumption of sugar releases dopamine to the brain, causing addictive effects. To put it more simply, kids get addicted to sugar – so at a time when candy is more readily available than usual, it is important to remember that important steps can be taken to ensure not only a happy Halloween, but a healthy one.”