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Around the Home: Healthy Halloween tips for parents, treat givers

POSTED: October 26, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Here they come: a small cowboy on a stick horse, a ballerina twirling in her tutu, a roaring dinosaur, a giddy princess complete with tiara, a ghostly apparition appearing at your door.

What do all these mysterious characters have in common? They are all on the lookout for tasty Halloween treats, preferably candy.

For parents who work hard all year to feed their children healthy, nutritious meals and snacks, Halloween poses a dilemma. On one hand, trick or treating provides wonderful exercise as kids trek around the neighborhood collecting goodies. On the other hand, those goodies are likely to be sugar-laden, empty calories.

Here are some tips for parents that will let kids enjoy the holiday without over consuming sugary treats.

Feed kids a healthy snack or light meal before they head out. Go with your child and monitor what they are eating while out on the treat hunt.

Choose trick-or-treat bags appropriate to the child's size. Older adolescents may carry larger bags, but not as large as a shopping bag or plastic garbage bag.

When you get home, sort through the candy. This is a good opportunity to check over the treats with safety in mind. Have your child choose several pieces to enjoy that night. Throw out the items your child will not eat.

With your child's input, set limits for the rest of the candy and explain the reasons for the limits. For example, allow your child to choose one or two pieces a day when they get home from school. Store the rest away in a cupboard, out of reach and out of sight. Who know, it may be forgotten in a week or so.

Be a role model yourself by eating candy in moderation. Buy your household Halloween candy at the last minute and store it out of sight. Buy only the amount you think you will hand out to the trick-or-treaters.

Think of alternatives to trick-or-treating. For example, take your costumed child shopping for a toy or to a movie. Throw your own party and invite your child's playmates over for games and healthy treats like fruits, vegetables and cheeses. Look for fall festival events offered by churches or community organizations.

Know your child and their habits. Let them enjoy the holiday and enlist their help to form some guidelines for the candy stash. Remember, Halloween is just one day-and one day won't ruin your year-round efforts to provide your children with healthy, balanced meals.

Tips for treat givers

When trick or treaters ring your doorbell, what will you give them? Think outside the box when choosing treats. The calories in those bite-size Halloween treats add up quickly. Four "bite size" chocolate bars contain approximately 320 calories, 25 jelly beans have 140 calories, and 20 pieces of candy corn add up to 100 calories. Plus, even on sale, consider that one "fun size" candy bar may cost more than 10 cents.

Try nutritious, tasty foods and offer some sugar-free options that will make Halloween a healthier and more inclusive holiday for children and adolescents who have diabetes or other health-related dietary restrictions.

The possibilities for healthy treats are endless, but here are a few ideas for starters.

Consider snack packs of pretzels, raisins, plain or chocolate covered; granola bars; trail mix; sugar-free gum; individual juice boxes, sugar-free hot chocolate or apple cider packets.

Consider non-food items like pencils, small bottles of bubbles, tiny decks of cards or from the multitude of fun items found at your local dollar store.

Adapted from Cooperative Extension.

Building radon out of your home

If you are planning to build a new home while construction costs and interest rates are down, ask your builder to install a radon mitigation system as the foundation is being formed.

In radon-prone North Georgia, your home will be radon-ready in the event the home tests high after it is up and running. An exhaust fan is all that will be needed to activate the radon removal process. By doing so you'll save as much as $1,000 over the cost of post-construction installation.

Ginger Bennett is the UGA Cooperative Extension Radon Educator for Hall and surrounding counties. You may contact her at 770-535-8290 or bennettg@uga.edu.



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