Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Healthy Halloween is Possible with Healthy Treats

By David Burton
University Extension

It’s hard to think of Halloween as a holiday to practice healthy eating habits.
However, Halloween is a great time to set a good example and remember moderation is one key to a healthy diet according to Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
“Halloween provides a great opportunity to be a good role model. Set the example by making a healthy choice for what will be passed out at your house on Halloween night,” said Roberts.
Some examples of Halloween treats that Roberts suggests are apples, small boxes of raisins, individual bags of snack mix or pretzels, stickers, Halloween puzzles or pencils.
EAT A GOOD DINNER
“Make sure your child eats a healthy meal before they go trick-or-treating,” said Roberts. “If the children are excited about going then enhance their appetite by making a festive meal.”
For example, let children make a pumpkin face by spreading grated cheese over a slice of bread. Let them make the face with black olives or other vegetables they like. Place the face under the broiler just until the cheese melts and then serve. Soup is great with sandwiches too.
“You can make a soup tureen by cleaning the insides out of a pumpkin and putting the soup inside. This pumpkin bowl could be used for fruit instead if you prefer,” said Roberts.
MODERATION
Balance, variety and moderation are keys to healthful eating.
“Let your children choose a few pieces of candy to have on Halloween night and then choose a few pieces each day after that,” said Roberts.
According to Roberts, children need to avoid too many foods and drinks that are high in sugar.
“If they are eating too many high sugar foods, they don’t have room for the healthy foods that contain the important nutrients they need for growth and development,” said Roberts.
TOOTH CARE
Another thing to remember (when all of the Halloween candy is in the house) is that sugary foods contribute to tooth decay.
In the mouth, there are bacteria. These bacteria like to eat sugar and that produces an acid. That acid is what eats away at teeth causing cavities.
“Since we know that there is a good chance that children will be consuming sugar on Halloween, encourage them to brush their teeth often,” said Roberts.
For more information on nutrition issues, contact any of the University of Missouri Extension offices in southwest Missouri, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

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