TORONTO ON- Dietitians of Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Dental Association are teaming up with ten tips for a safe and fun Halloween. The groups agree that Halloween is a great opportunity for parents to role model healthy behaviours and to talk with kids about things like eating mindfully, cleaning teeth properly and staying safe in their neighbourhoods.
"Rather than restricting candy completely, we can equip our kids to make better choices about when and what they are eating," says Laura McLean, Dietitian and Spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada. "Of course we want children to eat nourishing meals most of the time, but enjoying food without distraction, whether it's a mini chocolate bar or a juicy piece of fruit, is worth practicing with your family. It's important to teach them to eat mindfully and build healthy eating habits."
"Halloween is a great time for kids to get creative with costume making, and there are ways to make sure costumes are safe for your child and those around them," says Dr. Mike Dickinson, member of the Canadian Paediatric Society's Public Education Advisory committee. "By making costumes in light-coloured material or adding strips of reflective tape on the back and front, your child will be more visible to drivers around them."
"This is an exciting night for children," says Dr. Gary MacDonald, CDA President. "Sweets are a part of the tradition, but it's important to promote moderation. We encourage parents to take the opportunity to instil the importance of regular oral health care, including flossing, brushing and healthy snacking."
Ten Halloween Tips from Dietitians, Paediatricians and Dentists:
- Have a game plan
Before heading out, take a minute to talk about expectations. How long will trick-or-treating last? How much candy will be eaten when getting home? What will be the treats-per-day limit?
Eat treats (only) with a meal
Be a role model by sitting with your kids, distraction-free, and enjoy a treat after a meal. Mention what you like about the treat you chose. Bonus points: Mention what you like about your main course too!
Use a small bag and ditch non-favourites
One solution to avoid waste is to use smaller trick-or-treat bags to start. Another solution: a mid-November visit from the "Switch Witch" who trades remaining candy for something like a small toy or passes to an indoor waterslide park!
The right fit
It is important to make sure that your child's costume fits properly to prevent trips and falls. Avoid items such as oversized shoes, high heels, long dresses or capes.
Masks make it hard for children to see what's around them, including cars. Try a hypoallergenic (less likely to cause an allergic reaction), non-toxic make-up kit instead.
- Check your treats
Tell your child not to eat any treats before they get home. When home, you can look through your treats together to make sure everything is safe to eat and doesn't contain any ingredients that your child may be allergic to.
- Set a treat time
To resist constant snacking, it is best to limit snacking to particular times. Frequent snackers are at a greater risk of tooth decay as the mouth has constant acidic conditions that wear away at tooth enamel leading to cavities.
- Eat a balanced meal.
Healthy meals and snacks should always come before candy and treats. Send the kids trick or treating with a good healthy meal. A satisfied stomach will indulge in less sweets.
Brush, floss and rinse
Sticky candy can get stuck in between teeth and cause tooth decay. Brushing and flossing after a snack is ideal, but rinsing with a glass of water after eating a sugary treat will also help wash away some of the sugars and acids.
Show your family there is more to Halloween than the candy- enjoy time being active outside together and exploring your neighbourhood.