Halloween is fast approaching, and as fun as this spooky holiday is for kids and parents alike, the main focus tends to be on stockpiling tons of those sweet, sugary treats that we try not to indulge in too much. Fear not: you and your kids can still enjoy a fun Halloween and keep the focus on staying healthy.
- Pumpkin hunting: No Halloween is complete without a jack-o’-lantern sitting out on your stoop. Take this opportunity to get your kids up and moving. Instead of buying a pumpkin from the grocery store, travel to your local pumpkin patch. Many cities open up small community patches where you can pick out a pumpkin of your own while enjoying various fall activities. Your kids get the chance to walk around in search for the perfect pumpkin and work their muscles by lifting and carrying their selection. Plus, fresh fall air is great for everyone.
- Healthy pumpkin recipes: The fun doesn’t end there. Once you get home, you can clean, gut, and start carving those pumpkins. But don’t throw the seeds or the pulp away. You can roast the seeds in your oven for a healthy treat and use the pulp to create some delicious homemade soups, muffins, and other healthy recipes. You may consider picking up a pumpkin or two of your own just for eating.
- Plant a pumpkin patch: If you’re so inclined, why not plant a small pumpkin patch of your own? Help your kids take care of the pumpkins. All that hard work outside is sure to make your kids work up a sweat, and it all pays off in the end once they see those big, beautiful pumpkins sprouting from what was once just a seed.
- Extend that trick-or-treat route: Of course, for kids, the best part of Halloween is trick-or-treating. Fortunately, the act itself is quite healthy. You and your kids will walk all around the neighborhood, seeing friends and meeting neighbors. Your kids will have so much fun that they won’t realize that they are actually exercising. Extend that trick-or-treating route or do an extra lap around the block to get your kids walking longer and farther.
- Candy patrol: Once you have your kids back home, they’ll no doubt want to dive into their stash and get at those delicious sweets. Should you completely ban the candy? Well, not necessarily. Your kids did, after all, work hard to collect that candy. To take that away from them just wouldn’t be right. At the same time, Halloween isn’t an excuse to gorge on sweets. It’s okay to let them indulge a bit, but limit their candy intake—you are the guard of the candy castle. Realistically, your kids probably won’t be able to finish all that candy anyway, so what else can you do with it?
- Donate: There are numerous programs and establishments from dentists to children’s hospitals that will take that candy off your hands. You can also donate candy to the troops via care packages through Operation Gratitude. Make sure you and your kids include a personal letter as well to thank the troops for doing what they do.
- Trade: Set up a “trading post” where you take your kids’ candy and trade for something else. For example, for every pound of candy, you can trade your kids a book or toy. If they are hankering for something sweet, trade their candy for a deceptively healthy pumpkin muffin, popcorn ball, or other treat you prepared beforehand.
- Make: Pieces of candy make for great arts and craft supplies. Use those sweet treats to make all sorts of fun crafts, or save those candies up to build an elaborate gingerbread house once Christmas rolls around.
- Hand out healthy treats: Reconsider what you plan to hand out during Halloween. Go with natural or sugar-free treats, like carob, fruit leather, trail mix, or pretzels. Remember that you don’t have to hand out edible treats. Things like stickers, pencils, superballs, kazoos, crayons, and fake teeth are plenty of fun too.
- Get festive: Look into any harvest festivals run by your local community. These festivals often have a ton of fun, healthy activities that you and your kids can partake in, in or out of costume.
Have a happy Halloween!
Photo Credit: Pumpkin caravan by Robin Jones