We all know that this time of year is one that children look forward to for months. What to dress up as and where is best to go trick or treating? However, most of all what ‘goodies’ will I get? Are Hallowe’en ‘goodie bags’ all about junk foods or can we make them healthier?
One of the main foods at this time of year are nuts. There are many health benefits to nuts. They contain protein, fibre, good fats like monounsaturated and some polyunsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals (B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and potassium ). Some nuts contain Omega 3 fats, which are good for our hearts. A moderate intake of nuts has been associated with a reduction of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
While nuts are high in good fats, they are still high in calories so overindulging can lead to weight gain. Choose an unsalted variety as salt is associated with increasing blood pressure and therefore heart disease and stroke.
Remember whole nuts should not be offered to any child under five due to choking risks. Also, be careful if there is a nut allergy; always read the ingredients lists on foods.
Here are some other tips to make a Healthier Hallowe’en.
• Serve dinner before trick-or-treating. This way your children are not famished when they return.
• Have a bowl of fresh fruit at the front door for trick or treaters instead of sweets and chocolate.
• Have games and activities ready to play on Hallowe’en night to help burn off extra calories.
• Hand out non-food treats. Most children will enjoy things like stickers, toy cars, toy figures – all readily available at a local bargain shop.
• Limit the amount of treats your child can have.
• When children return they should be encouraged to pick a few favourite items from the bag. Others should be placed away to have at a later day. Keep this bag out of sight to prevent constant temptation.
• Remember dental health! Be extra careful about teeth brushing when sweet treats have been taken.
For more information please contact Community Nutrition & Dietetics, Marlinstown Office Park, Mullingar at (044 ) 9353220 or email [email protected].