Better Nutrition

NATURAL FAMILY Healthy, Happy Halloween

Tips for a spooky safe holiday

- by Lisa Turner

Tips for a spooky safe holiday.

For kids, few holidays match the thrill of Halloween: staying out late, dressing in costume, and collecting literally tons of treats— an estimated 600 million pounds of Halloween candy was sold last year, at a staggering cost of $ 2 billion. If that weren’t frightenin­g enough, potential hazards such as adulterate­d candy, fl ammable costumes, and car accidents make trick- or- treating a fairly terrifying prospect. Some tips to keep your kids safe on the scariest night of the year: Cross safely. According to Centers for Disease Control ( CDC) estimates, four times more kids are hit by cars on Halloween than on any other night of the year. Keep your kids safe: little ones should be accompanie­d by an adult, and always hold hands when crossing streets. Even older kids will benefi t from a review of street safety: stay on the sidewalk, stop before crossing, look both ways, cross only at crosswalks, and never cross between parked cars. Be costume savvy. Black ninja or witch costumes make kids almost impossible to see at night. Encourage lighter colors, or affi x refl ective tape strips to back, legs, arms, and feet. Costumes should be sized properly to prevent tripping and falling, and shoes should fi t and be easy to walk in ( no high heels for little ones). Be sure masks don’t impede vision or hearing— younger kids shouldn’t wear them at all. Props should be light and safe, without pointed, sharp, or jagged edges. And for younger children, tape or safety pin a tag with your child’s name, your name, and your phone number to their costumes. Check candy. Though there’s never been a confi rmed report of a stranger randomly poisoning candy, there are a few verifi ed reports of sharp objects, such as needles or razor blades, in candy. So while it’s extremely rare, it is possible. Best to be safe and check candy before kids eat it. Throw away fruit, homemade treats, and anything that’s not in its original wrapper. Be especially cautious of small children choking on nuts or gum— that’s much more likely to happen than poisoning or sharp objects. Balance blood sugar. Few Halloween happenings are scarier than an oversugare­d kid. Take precaution­s before the big event. Feed kids a substantia­l dinner with enough fat, fi ber, and protein to balance blood sugar through the evening. ( Try our Cheeseburg­er Jack- o’- Lanterns, p. 70.) If dinner is early and trick- ortreating is late, arrange for high- protein snacks before kids head out for the evening: beef jerky, mixed nuts, hummus, deviled eggs, roasted chickpeas, protein smoothies, and sliced turkey or cheese are good options. Protect teeth. From a dental health perspectiv­e, Halloween really is a nightmare. You can’t completely prohibit kids from indulging, but you can limit candy consumptio­n. The biggest danger is nib-

bling throughout the day, which keeps teeth constantly bathed in sugar. Don’t pack candy in school lunches or give it for snacks. Instead, let kids have a couple of pieces after dinner, then brush and fl oss thoroughly. And for Halloween treats at home, choose xylitol gum— it doesn’t promote decay and can even prevent cavities and improve gum health. Carve safely. Jack- o’- lanterns are key to Halloween fun, but open fl ames and sharp carving knives are risky. Don’t let little kids use knives; give them black markers to draw faces on pumpkins. Or buy a pumpkin carving kit— they’re made with dull carving tools that can

Few Halloween happenings are scarier than an oversugare­d kid, so plan a dinner with enough fat, fiber, and protein to keep their blood sugar balanced.

cut pumpkins, but not fi ngers. Older kids can use a plastic lettuce knife or a sharp knife with supervisio­n. Scoop out the insides with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop, rather than a sharp knife. And instead of traditiona­l candles, buy fl ickering fl ameless tea lights or

small pillars for safe illuminati­on. Soothe stomachs. Overeating candy can give kids a powerful stomachach­e. Why? The body may not digest large quantities of sugar, and undigested portions can ferment in the lower intestine and produce gas. If your child overindulg­es, peppermint or ginger can help. Brew a very strong tea ( use only one- quarter the usual amount of water) to speed digestion and relieve gas. Chewing on fennel seeds also helps. Or give your child a small amount of baking soda in warm water. Supplement­s that can help include Nux vomica homeopathi­c pellets, Bach Rescue Remedy, and papaya enzymes.

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