Focus on The Memories not The Treats for a "Spooktacular" Halloween

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Parents and Halloween

With Halloween right around the corner, many children are getting excited about costumes, haunted houses and most of all, candy. But with obesity on the rise in Arkansas, parents and caregivers might want to think twice before making sugary treats the focus of their Halloween celebrations.

"We have seen a rise in obese and overweight children," says Brandi Nichols, registered dietitian in clinical nutrition at Arkansas Children's Hospital. "I think part of the problem, to use the old saying, is that some people 'live to eat' while others 'eat to live'. By focusing holiday celebrations on treats and candy, we're teaching our children to base their experiences around food."

Nichols says there are many other activities that can provide fun, entertainment and special memories for children at Halloween.

"I suggest focusing on being together with family and friends," adds Nichols. "Halloween is a great time to foster creativity by focusing on activities like designing costumes, carving pumpkins and creating decorations. You can also involve their friends by hosting a carnival with non-food related activities such as costume contests, bobbing for apples, bean bag tosses, relay races and craft projects. Instead of having bowls of candy set out at the event, offer healthy alternatives like cheese and crackers, pretzels, fruit and raisins."

As party favors, Nichols suggests small gift bags with non-food items like stickers, erasers, hair clips, pencils or matchbox cars. If parents want to incorporate treats, find a small piece of candy that can be included with the other items.

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"When many people think of holidays like Halloween, they think of the candy and other unhealthy food choices. We want parents to help their children focus on creating memories and other special holiday traditions."

However, Nichols does suggest guidelines for parents if they would like provide sweet treats at Halloween.

"We recommend letting children choose one or two pieces of candy a day," says Nichols.

"Maybe they could pick one to have in their lunch and one to eat after dinner. It's important to set guidelines and not let kids eat all their candy within a few days of Halloween."

It is also important for parents to watch the time of day they let their children consume candy.

"Parents let their kids fill up on candy before dinner and then they are

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