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Tricks for a healthy Halloween


Don't let unhealthy eating run amok on Halloween, advises Jill Chiacchia, founder and director of the the beHealthy Institute in Hamburg. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

By Catherine Henry – Refresh Contributing Writer

Jill Chiacchia doesn’t want
to be “that person”– the one who agonizes over the huge quantities of unhealthy
candy during Halloween.

But when it comes to the
treats being distributed to children, the owner of the beHealthy Institute in Hamburg has no problem
exposing their toxicity: High-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors
and preservatives load these confections.

And although it’s hard to
imagine, these little bonbons handed out once a year contribute to the obesity
epidemic in kids, potentially leading to
a life of insulin shots, cholesterol medicine and beta blockers.

Talk about scary.

“Research links artificial
colors with behavioral issues in children,” says Chiacchia. “Overconsumption of sugar leads to a long
list of health concerns from tooth decay to diabetes, from obesity to weakened
immune systems. I feel like if I give out Halloween candy, I’m not only
supporting an industry that is counter to my mission in life but I’m
contributing to a health epidemic in our

Chiacchia asks parents to be
proactive this Halloween. Instead of candy, she will give out glow sticks,
pencils, notebooks, playing cards, stickers or mini crafts.

“If candy is a must, then go
for the smaller sized treats and read the ingredients,” Chiacchia says.
“Chocolate miniatures or dark chocolate bit size bars only contain around 4
grams of sugar each and have fewer scary ingredients. Natural fruit leathers,
trail mixes and popcorn are also nice options.”

Most importantly, Chiacchia
follows a few simple rules to keep her family healthy during Halloween:

1. Eat first: Have a complete and healthy meal before the family heads out on
Halloween night – parents, too. Try to
include a good source of protein, ample vegetables and a healthy fat source to
help round out a satisfying meal.

Ensure the children are well hydrated. Dehydration leads to cravings for sugar.
To be fully hydrated, drink water throughout the day rather than chugging water
just before heading out.

3. Sweet dreams: Try to make sure the kids have good night sleep the day leading up to
Halloween. Sleep deprivation also leads to cravings for sugar and caffeine.

4. Plan ahead: Offer a homemade favorite alternative for the end of the evening. A baked
pie, hot chocolate with “real milk” and chocolate syrup or homemade chai tea
are much healthier than processed sugar.

5. Lay down the law: Be the candy police. Place a limit on how much candy
the kids can indulge in on Halloween night and the days following. Throw out
the rest. It’s so important to remove the temptation from your house.  As hard as it may be, don’t skip this

Best wishes for a healthy
and safe Halloween night.

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