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Eight tricks to make Halloween a treat

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Halloween can be a scary time of year, but don’t let fear hold you back.

We checked in with a few of our UMN experts for tips on how to stay sane, and healthy, through the spook!

  1. Don’t make treats the most important part of your Halloween traditions.

When you talk about Halloween with your kids, be sure to focus also on the non-food aspects that make it fun. Spend time talking about the costumes, seeing friends in your neighborhood, carving pumpkins, fun events at school, spooky stories, etc.

  1. Remember, it’s just a costume.

The best way to handle fear, and get skeptical kids ready for the holiday, is to discuss what is going to happen. Young children need to know that Halloween is just for fun and the scary stuff is just pretend. Reading books and stories to your child about trick-or-treating, and Halloween in general, are great ways to ease fear. Also, try on costumes before the big day to avoid day-of drama.

  1. Forget the lenses.

Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. Though packages may say differently, they can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.

  1. Avoid trick-or-treating on an empty stomach.

Take time to eat a healthy well balanced evening meal prior to trick-or-treating. Invite neighbors over to share a meal with your family before you head out trick-or-treating and make this shared meal a part of your neighborhood Halloween tradition!

  1. Light the night.

Plan costumes that are bright and reflective so that you can be seen walking through the neighborhoods. Carry flashlights with fresh batteries on your adventure and remind children that safety rules still apply…look both ways for cars, stay close to adults and don’t ever go into an environment where you don’t feel comfortable.

  1. Set (a few) candy ground rules.

Remind your kids of the items they should not be eating. Clear their stash of items such as hard candies for children who are too young, sticky candies for children with braces, or candies that contain any known allergens.  After trick-or-treating, have your kids pick out a set amount of candy to enjoy that night, then set designated after-meal candy times in the days following. This way, they can learn to enjoy candy in moderation, but still be filling up on actual meals.

  1. Protect your fangs.

In terms of candy consumption, it is safest for teeth if it is consumed as a dessert, along with one of the three major meals.  Candy is more likely to cause cavities if it’s eaten between meals or before bed. Sweets that are consumed more frequently do not give the body time to repair, and progressive destruction of the tooth surface occurs until an irreversible cavity is formed.

  1. Save the candy for the human goblins, ghosts and witches.

Feeding pets Halloween candy can severely upset their GI tract leading to vomiting and diarrhea and in significant quantities, chocolate can be toxic to dogs. If your pet is going to become upset by the doorbell, be sure to put them in a safe room as far away from the sound as you can get them.

 

From all of of us at Health Talk, have a happy and healthy Halloween!

Thanks to Katie Loth, Ph.D., M.P.H., Iris Borowsky, M.D., Ph.D., Gary Hildebrandt, D.D.S., M.S., Julie Churchill, D.V.M.,Ph,D., and Kristi Flynn, D.V.M., for the advice.

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