Halloween is just around the corner! While many are looking forward to trick-or-treating, costumes and, of course, candy, it’s important to remember a healthy diet.

It may seem difficult to eat healthy during this time, but Alabama Extension specialist and registered dietitian Katie Funderburk says Halloween can be a great time to introduce new foods to children through kitchen crafts and themed snacks.

“Letting kids play with food or participate in cooking or preparation can actually help picky eaters try new fruits and vegetables,” Funderburk said.

Some fun project ideas include making little pumpkins from clementine oranges or spooky ghosts from banana halves. People can use toothpicks or nut butter to hold raisins or chocolate chips in place for the eyes.

Watch Portions

Some of the best memories people have about Halloween is going trick-or-treating and sorting through all the candy they received from going door to door. While this may seem like fun, it is important to keep portions of treats small and spread out over time, rather than consuming them all at once. This can help children avoid filling up before meals or getting a stomachache. It can also extend the Halloween fun over several days instead of just a one or two-night event.

Funderburk offers the following tips to make Halloween candy last:

• Serve a few pieces of leftover Halloween candy as dessert after nutritious meals for a few days. Another option is to offer pieces on a snack tray along with more nutrition options. These options can include fruit slices, cheese and crackers or veggies and dip.

• Create a snack bowl that children are free to eat from when hungry. Include nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruit, granola bars, whole-grain crackers or trail mix with fruit and nuts. Throw in a few pieces of Halloween candy each day, waiting to restock the bowl until the next day.

• Keeping the candy out of sight will often cause younger children to forget about it. Store the candy in a safe place and pull out a few pieces at a time when appropriate. Avoid using candy as a reward or withholding it as a punishment, as research shows this can make candy more desirable.

Limiting Sugar

Because of the increased opportunity for candy during the Halloween season, it could be a good time to think about other ways to limit added sugars and increase nutrient-rich foods and beverages in a child’s diet.

Offering water or milk instead of sugary beverages is one option. Also, move sugary snacks not meant for the holiday to the back of the pantry or to a higher shelf. Additionally, serving a vegetable the child likes with dinner is also an option.

Have Fun, Get Moving

No matter how it’s done, Funderburk said remember to have fun and enjoy family time, especially during the holidays.

“Cooking and crafting together in the kitchen and dancing to silly Halloween songs are great ways to make healthy food fun and keep moving during the holiday,” Funderburk said.

For more tips on nutrition, visit LiveWellAlabama.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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