How to satisfy your kids’ sweet tooth while maintaining healthy habits

When your kids are all dolled up for their festive costumes and Halloween classics, nothing comes close to all the mouth-watering sweets waiting to be devoured. While it’s fun to watch them explode with enthusiasm this season, waiting around for all the cavities and potential tummy aches to haunt them isn’t much fun.

Maintaining healthy habits for your little one is important, especially during the holidays. Ending their year strong with consistent eating habits (although they may indulge here and there) helps them develop a healthy relationship with food that they will grow up with.

So, before we get to the sweet stuff, let’s look at why it’s a good habit to keep kids healthy on Halloween..

It helps teach the importance of moderation

“Kids are constantly growing and developing, so they must eat a variety of foods,” says Jennifer Norris, MS, RDN, of the Balance Eating Disorders Treatment Center. “This is an exceptional time for children to develop a healthy relationship with food and understand the need for balance with food.” Leading by example can help them grasp the concept further. It’s hard when they want all the Halloween treats at once, but exploring what they can get, rather than what they can’t, is more likely to prevent overindulgence.

Children are less likely to develop cavities

Cavities are no fun—not to mention jaw-clenching trips to the dentist to get them fixed. It can be a nightmare for kids and adults too. Eating candy and watching portion sizes as well as making sure they brush their teeth at least twice a day, especially after eating sweets, will do the trick—or in this case, the cure.

Healthy habits support digestion and gut health

“Although candy can be delicious, eating too much can cause stomach upset and raise blood glucose levels,” says Norris. Other symptoms can include bloating, vomiting and diarrhea – not fun at all. Too much sugar can affect the healthy bacteria in their gut, which, in turn, can be a gateway to developing chronic illnesses down the road. Keeping score of their candy intake can prevent tummy troubles and their future selves will thank them for it.

It helps children maintain a healthy weight

Although sweets are delicious and enjoyable, they are mostly empty calories. And empty calories, if consumed in excess, can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Excess calories (if not used in the body) can be stored as fat. Norris also adds that “Including a balanced dinner before trick-or-treating is helpful because it shows kids the importance of a variety of nutrients in addition to any candy.” Teaching children the importance of listening to their bodies while teaching them mindfulness. “And practicing mindfulness with children is a great way to help them maintain healthy habits,” says Norris.

With these benefits in mind, you might wonder how you can curb your sweet tooth cravings while keeping them healthy. With these four tips, you can monitor their sugar levels without having a sugar explosion.

Let your kids be your sous chef. Kids love when they help and are part of something great. So what better way than to involve them in the kitchen? “This can be a fun opportunity to bake with the kids as they make healthy versions of some fall favorites,” says Norris. Ask them to pour ingredients, make silly faces with fruit, cut up some apples—whatever it is, they’ll likely enjoy the finished product knowing they’re part of a masterpiece.

This can be a great teaching moment as you explain the benefits of each ingredient. Perhaps they can appreciate home-prepared goodies while satisfying their sweet tooth. Make it fun and creative! Turn on some tunes, wear a fun outfit, and get groovy!

Use sugar substitute as a substitute. Excess sugar consumption in childhood is associated with increased risk of health problems later in life. But eliminating sugar completely can lead to bland and bland meals, so opt for sugar alternatives instead of skipping sweet treats. Ingredients like agave nectar, applesauce, ripe bananas, dates, coconut sugar, honey, and cacao nibs can do the trick. They create unique flavors, add nutritional value and are much healthier than sugar. Your little ones won’t even notice the difference.

More fruit, please. Fruit is always a good choice as a snack or treat. Getting creative with fruit can quickly satisfy a sweet tooth. “Parents can include fresh seasonal fruits, such as pears and cranberries, in their child’s diet,” says Norris. “Make pumpkins out of mandarin oranges or bananas as ghosts for an interactive snack” get crafty. Don’t forget about all the fantastic nutrition they’ll get!

Avoid using candy as a reward. It may be tempting to trade a lollipop for good behavior or some chocolate to complete tasks, but this is a sneaky way to increase your sugar intake without even thinking about it. Try offering an activity you can do together as a reward. For example, if they complete their tasks, they can watch their favorite Spooktacular movie and maybe even make some chocolate popcorn balls.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be sour and smooth to satisfy your kids’ sweet tooth — even about candy. You can ‘treat-and-treat’ with their creative, seasonal dishes that are nutritious and very tasty. Check out these infamous sweater-weather favorites!

sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are nutritious and full of vitamins A and C, potassium and magnesium. It’s easy to forget they’re vegetables because they can transform into so many recipes. How about making a rich, creamy smoothie with pumpkin spice, Greek yogurt, and banana? Try this spicy sweet potato smoothie; It’s bound to be a winner among the kids.

apple

Fall and apples just go together. These are perfect snacks any time of the day that won’t give your baby a sugar high. For example, try these loaded apple bagels that can be served in five minutes.

Slice a ripe apple into a bagel-like circle; Remove the seeds and make a circle in the center. Add delicious toppings to the spread, such as cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and almond butter—and either fresh fruit, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, or a drizzle of honey. The combinations are endless! Even “baked apples are easy and delicious fall-friendly snacks,” says Norris.

Cranberry

Loaded with vitamins B and C and antioxidants, cranberries offer many health benefits that are essential for your growing baby. They’re a familiar fall favorite and a great addition to baked goodies. Let’s start with this oat scone and cranberry recipe – flaky, fiber-filled goodness your kids will enjoy.

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