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Make this Halloween a healthier holiday

Halloween can be lots of fun – but also scary when it comes to the amount of calories and sugar consumed by children this time of year. Taking away the candy seems like an easy fix, but it’s easier said than done. “No one wants to be the ‘mean parent,’ ” said Dr. Dyan Hes, medical director at Gramercy Pediatrics in New York City.

“I specialize in childhood obesity and while I don’t condone bingeing on candy, I also don’t recommend taking away all of the candy your kids collect,” Hes said in a news release. “Instead, I place limits on how much my kids are allowed to eat at any given time. They know they’re only allowed a certain amount of candy on Halloween and can enjoy the rest over the next couple of months. I usually throw one or two treats in their lunch bag once or twice a week and they love the surprise.”

Hes offered some tried and true tips to help make Halloween a bit healthier for your little monsters:

Don’t trick or treat on an empty stomach

“Feed your kids an early dinner before they head out,” Hes said. “A full belly will make them less likely to gorge on candy bars and lollipops as they make their way around.”

Pile it up

After a successful trick or treat, kids usually love to dump their candy all over to see how much they were able to accumulate. Hes recommends dumping out all of the candy into piles – one pile they like and another they don’t. Take all of the castaways, put them in a bag and bring the bag to your office. “Getting it out of the house gives the entire family a greater chance at maintaining a healthy diet,” Hes said. “You won’t even miss it!”

Lead by example

Instead of filling the basket by the front door with sugary confections, trade them in for healthier treats that kids will still eat. Hes suggests organic fruit snacks, lollipops, or even loose change. Kids love getting a few cents in their bags.

Get moving

Halloween trick or treating is the perfect family outing. Instead of chauffeuring the kids around the neighborhood, encourage them to walk. They can even make a game out of it by using pedometers or activity monitors to track their movement and compete with their friends or siblings to see who took the most steps.

Shift focus

Ingrain in your kids that Halloween is not only about the candy. Focus on other activities and crafts like carving pumpkins and baking the pumpkin seeds as a healthy snack. Kids love to decorate the house or the front door with spooky decorations. Let them make homemade decorations instead of buying them.  Use cotton to make spiderwebs or pipe cleaners.  This is always a big hit ... all in costume of course.

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