How do you prepare for trick or treat night? I set up a table in front of my garage, cover it with an orange blanket and plug in spooky Halloween lights for the effect. Upon the table are two large plastic pumpkins filled with treats.
When the ghost and goblins, witches and vampires, princesses and commandos, Lady Gaga and Buzz Lightyears show up at my house, they expect a true treat. Instead, I have the reputation of being the “Math Lady.”
Everyone has to answer a math or geography question before I dip into my plastic pumpkins for their treat. Of course, the preschoolers get help from my husband who stands behind me whispering the answer to 1+1.
One mom laughed when she realized that the local nutrition columnist was handing out fun size candy bars and lollipops with caramel or bubble gum inside. What did she expect, chocolate covered broccoli?
A mini candy bar will not cause an increase of body weight. It is the number of candy bars consumed that increases weight. A moderate intake of candy is no more than 1 ounce a day. If you don’t know how much one ounce is, read the label, and add up the weight. Adding up the calories can help also define moderation. Usually less than 100 calories of candy per day defines a moderate amount.
Parents are the key to controlling the amount of candy their kids eat. A simple step like limiting sugar intake is an easy way to help curb the obesity epidemic in children. If parents can make just one rule in their house concerning Halloween candy, it should be this: No candy in front of anything digital or electronic, which includes the television.
A few candy bars eaten while walking or bicycling do not count in my book. They are used by the body for energy almost immediately. The best way to keep a feel-good feeling flowing though the body is to increase the movement of muscles. Walking, stretching, bending, and moving produce a happy reaction in the body called endorphin release. Candy can fuel that release.
It is always a treat for me to see so many people out in the neighborhood. Entire families, including grandparents, are out walking. Food energizes the body to move. Driving kids house to house does not have the same advantage.
The healthy benefit of Halloween trick-or-treating is not the candy at all, it is the movement of the legs and feet, arms and hands, and head and body that make this holiday such a happy one. Eat Halloween candy in moderation and move every part of your body. The more movement the better and know basic math facts when you come to my house.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.