BY DONNA KIRDAHY
Treats or Tricks?
Would you like to give a treat other than candy this Halloween? Think those little witches and goblins will only be satisfied with sugar and chocolate? Well, the surprising finding of a Yale University Center study* of 3 to 14-year-olds revealed that, given the choice, the revelers picked a toy as readily as candy.
The news that inexpensive non-candy treats (stickers, erasers, party favors, etc.) are acceptable treats should be encouraging to nutritionists and parents alike. With childhood obesity at an all-time high for American children, the promotion of unhealthful foods is being questioned; parents are joining with schools to limit children's access to high fat/sugared snack foods and drinks that have become favorites among school children. Concerns for obesity-related diabetes and other health concerns are driving these changes in approach to and presentation of food choices both at home and in school.
We've become accustomed to "treating" ourselves and our children throughout the year with unhealthful food choices. There's always a holiday or event that triggers poor choices--whether a birthday, Halloween, Easter, Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, New Year's or other excuse to pick a fatty or sugared snack. The good news is, the children in the Yale study have shown us non-nutritious foods can be removed (or types of foods changed) from celebrations and new non-food traditions can be successfully forged.
Halloween is just the start of a long holiday bingeing season that most of us regret come January 1. Take control now by planning ahead for the next few months. Stock up on those party favors and lay in the Christmas crackers (the inedible ones) before reaching for the chocolate. Everyone will be a winner.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is a non-profit educational agency dedicated to strengthening families and communities, enhancing and protecting the environment, and fostering countywide economic development. Affiliated with Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is part of the state and national extension system that includes the land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CCE's program areas include Agriculture, Marine, 4-H Youth Development, and Family and Consumer Sciences.
Some non-candy choices:
Pencils, markers, crayons
Balloons (ages three and up only)
Sugar-free gum (older children)
Boxes of raisins
Packages of pumpkin seeds (older children)
If you must have candy, buy only what you expect to give away (avoiding leftovers); do not buy in advance (avoiding temptation); pick non-fat candies such as Smarties, Tootsie Rolls or small lollipops (for older children only).
* "Trick, Treat or Toy: Children Are Just as Likely to Choose Toys as Candy on Halloween,"
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
, Vol. 35, No. 4, July/August 2003.
Information courtesy of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is a non-profit educational agency dedicated to strengthening families and communities enhancing and protecting the environment, and fostering countywide economic development. Affiliated with Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is part of the state and national extension system that includes the land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CCE's four main program areas are Agriculture, Marine, 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County (CCE)
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