Have a Healthy-ween

It’s the scariest time of the year again –– time when the witch, goblin and ghost costumes come out.  Although we may see some scary costumes, what is more frightening is the amount of sugar kids and adults consume.  To put it into perspective, a “fun-size” or “mini” candy bar can have around four to eight grams of sugar, which is about one to two teaspoons of sugar for each piece. The amount of sugar really starts to add up with just a couple of small pieces of candy eaten every day.

Candy may seem inevitable this season, but you and your family can be well prepared by reviewing these nutritious tips:

Set the rules. Before Halloween approaches, set the rules with your little ones ahead of time. An example can be to sort candy into two piles –– favorites and least favorites –– after trick-or-treating. Let them participate in rulemaking, as you discuss moderation and the amount of candy they will be allowed to eat. Take this opportunity to have an educational moment with them about the importance of choosing healthy foods to support their growing body.  As for adults, avoid making candy the focus of the holiday; rather, center children’s attention on the costumes, the trick-or-treating route and safety, seeing their friends, pumpkin carving, games and such.  At all times, avoid using candy as a reward for good behavior.

Fuel up. With all the excitement building up to Halloween night, don’t forget to have a nutritious meal or snack before heading out to trick-or-treat. Follow a balanced meal pattern –– as indicated by the MyPlate ( –– to include whole grains, protein and plenty of vegetables. Feeling rushed? Try to get in a substantial snack –– some ideas include PB&J on whole grain toast, veggies and hummus, or a low-fat cheese stick and fruit.

Staying in? For those who are too old to trick-or-treat or who enjoy receiving trick-or-treaters, consider giving away non-food items instead of candy. Interestingly, a study done by Yale University’s Department of Psychology found that kids aged 3-14 were not disappointed to receive a toy treat on Halloween. Some toy treat ideas include bouncing balls, stickers, pencils, party favors like bubbles, colorful shoelaces, plastic fangs, plastic jewelry, glow-in-the-dark toys, etc. Many of these items can be found at local discount or party stores. You also can opt for snack-size foods like dried fruit such as mini raisin boxes, sugar-free gum, whole-grain crackers or fruit-filled bars. If giving away candy, choose miniature or fun-size options; particularly, those containing dark chocolate.

Out of sight, out of mind. Avoid being tempted with leftover candy. It may be argued that Halloween comes around once a year so it may not be necessary to worry about unhealthy choices made for one night. However, leftover candy may undermine a healthy eating plan. So, it may be better to toss out leftovers. Remember to keep fresh fruits and vegetables in sight by keeping your fruit bowl at home filled and by packing containers with fruits and veggies for work or school.

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Lucette-Talamas-RD-LDN-165x300About Lucette Talamas RD, LDN

Lucette Talamas is a registered dietitian who specializes in community health at Baptist Health South Florida. She is passionate about translating the science of nutrition into practical recommendations that can be used in the prevention and management of chronic diseases. Understanding the role nutrition plays in a healthy community, she engages the South Florida community with her interactive lectures on nutrition to audiences of all ages – from children to seniors. She participates in local radio and television interviews where she separates facts from fads on issues relating to diet and nutrition.  Lucette graduated with honors from the University of Florida, earning her Food Science and Human Nutrition degree, with a concentration in Dietetics.  Lucette completed her dietetic internship at Florida Hospital Orlando where she worked as a clinical dietitian, providing medical nutrition therapy to acutely ill patients, including critical care.  Lucette is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Florida Dietetic Association.



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