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Safe and Healthy Halloween Eating Tips

With plenty of Halloween treats available this time of year, it is only natural to want your family to enjoy them. However, you need to be cautious to avoid unpleasant experiences like food allergies, digestive problems, or other side effects due to the consumption of high amounts of treats and snacks. So, what are the ways to stay healthy during healthy Halloween?

Key takeaways:

Halloween is the time of the year when both children and grown-up people have lots of fun. It’s tradition for children to knock on doors and ask for “treat or trick?” If they are lucky enough, they will get delicious candies. But Halloween is not only fun and festive for children. In recent years, adults have been having so much fun with costume parties or family activities. However, after these enjoyable events, many people have bad experiences with foods due to overeating, sugar spikes, high amounts of alcohol, or sometimes food allergies. Let's figure out how you and your children have a fun Halloween Day without any health concerns.

Healthy choices and portion control

The truth is, all of us tend to eat higher amounts than our daily needs, and the foods that we choose are not very healthy on special occasions like festivals, holidays, or birthdays.

Therefore, many of us feel guilty and sometimes feel discomfort afterward. To avoid these bad experiences, portion control is essential.

There are some ways to help.

1. Eat a healthy meal before

If you don’t want to eat excessively, try to feel a satiety state before going to a place full of high calories, high fat, and high sugar. Because when you are in a hungry state, it is more difficult to control yourself. Try to have just a couple of glasses of drink or a small piece of dessert. It is the same for your child, too. Make sure that your child has a healthy meal before start collecting treats in your neighborhood.

2. Opt for healthy choices

If you are the host of an event, try to prepare healthy meal alternatives rather than junk foods for your guests. There are many delicious, healthy Halloween meal ideas out there. With some consciousness, you can prepare the best Halloween table for your guests. Also, keep the serving size small to avoid your family and friends eating too much.

3. Stay hydrated

Drinking water is the most important and easily forgotten thing during such special days. Make sure that you and your children drink plenty of water during the day. You can put a bottle of water in your child’s treat bag. Also, for adults, drinking water is essential to avoid the side effects of alcohol during Halloween parties. Many people face with dehydration related to high amounts of alcohol, nausea, and vomiting.

Food allergies and food sensitivities

One in 13 American children — or about two students per classroom — have a food allergy. Some cases are mild, but some allergic reactions can be life-threatening. About 40% of children with food allergies are treated in the emergency room.

The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid those foods to which a child is allergic strictly. Some foods responsible for serious reactions are those found in Halloween treats, including milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, and other tree nuts. In addition, sesame allergies, also found in many sweets, are an emerging concern.

Food sensitivities (intolerances) are not life-threatening but are more prevalent than food allergies. Food sensitivities cause symptoms like bloating, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal discomfort, cramping, nausea, heartburn, skin rashes, fatigue, joint pain, and headaches.

The top food sensitivities in children are lactose (dairy), gluten, caffeine, histamine, fructose, sulfites, corn, soy, and FODMAPs (a group of fermentable carbohydrates). Other common food sensitivities include artificial sweeteners (i.e., aspartame), artificial colors, eggs, MSG, and yeast. Again, many of these ingredients are commonly found in Halloween treats.

However, many brands have delicious treats for children in food stores that are free from allergens, gluten, dairy, soy, artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. You should check the labels to make sure all the ingredients are safe.

Also, it is important to separate safe sweets from those that contain allergens to avoid cross-contamination.

Most importantly, you should educate your children if they have any food allergies or sensitivities about what to eat and what not to eat. You can not control them all the time, but if you educate them and make them ask you about the candy that they are unsure about safety at least, it would be more than beneficial.

The teal pumpkin project

The safest Halloween treats for children with food allergies or dietary restrictions are non-food treats such as pencils, necklaces, glow rings, or Lego toys. Besides, children love these treats.

The rules are simple. Those who choose to be part of the Teal Pumpkin Project place a teal pumpkin on their doorstep. This means that in addition to candies, they also offer non-food treats, which are safer for all trick-or-treaters. Once the Teal Pumpkin Project adds a house to its map, those looking for safe treats can find it easier.

Tips for handling Halloween treats

Here are some tips that you might have in mind when preparing Halloween treats:

  • Give your child a healthy meal or healthy snack before going out trick-or-treating. If they are not hungry, they are less likely to eat sweets and candies before properly checking.
  • Get creative. In addition to buying allergy-friendly snacks, many foods can be decorated for Halloween. Allow your child to help you decorate them. For example, a banana can be turned into a ghost, a sandwich into a monster, pretzels into spiderwebs, and oranges can be decorated to look like jack-o’-lanterns. This way, safe foods available at home are more appealing to a child.
  • Talk to neighbors in advance and invite them to participate in the Pumpkin Teal Project.
  • Don’t let your food-allergic little child go trick-or-treating alone. An older sibling or a parent who knows what to do in an emergency should accompany the child.
  • Children with food allergies or other dietary restrictions should learn how to say no to foods that may be unsafe, particularly homemade sweets or products that do not have a label with all the ingredients.
  • Teach the child not to eat any treats while trick-or-treating. They should wait until they get home.
  • Once home, you can sort the candies into two piles: a “keep pile” that is safe to eat and a “trade pile” that is given away or exchanged for another food or toy.
  • Try adding healthy foods to accompany the high-sugar Halloween treats. For example, serve almond butter (if not allergic), hummus, veggies, or berries. These foods help stabilize blood glucose levels, which would otherwise spike.
  • After indulging in the treats on Halloween night, the sweets should be consumed in moderation. Teach your child that the more they save, the more they will have for later.

The last word

Everyone can enjoy Halloween safely, including children with food allergies or other dietary restrictions. However, you need to be cautious about your own health by avoiding overconsumption and your children's health by teaching them how to consume only safe treats.

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