An Aussie dietitian’s take on Halloween

Love or hate it, Halloween is upon us again. For some, Halloween may seem to be an unnecessary celebration here in Australia. A night where kids load up on as many sweets and lollies as they can possibly manage whilst they really have no idea what Halloween is all about. And just a few short weeks before Christmas. Really?

On the other hand, you may be all for the fun that Halloween creates for kids and adults alike. Who doesn’t like a good dress-up, right?

This year, I’ve decided to embrace the good and turn the rest into an opportunity to teach my daughter some great lessons about food and life.

Origins of Halloween

The festivities of Hallowe’en (All Hallows Eve) is celebrated on 31st October. It was arguably first celebrated in Gaelic Ireland and Scotland, but today is celebrated in many countries throughout the world that each have their own distinct Hallowe’en traditions. My cousin, who grew up in Scotland, tells me that Scottish tradition holds that children have to sing a song or tell a joke in order to get the “treat”. More a “trick FOR a treat” rather than “trick or treat”. In Scotland, it’s not just a matter of knocking on someone’s door and diving into the sweet bowl. I like that!

A positive spin on Halloween

Good old fashioned fun

Seriously, what better excuse for the whole family get to dress up and look silly?

History

Hallowe’en traditions vary all across the world. Why not take the opportunity to explore some of these and perhaps create some of your own?

Fun family time

Halloween, decorating your house, carving an enormous pumpkin or trick or treating can be a family event.

Learning how to stay safe

Halloween provides a perfect opportunity to teach personal safety and road safety to small children. Have a responsible adult chaperone young children at all times.

Get to know your neighbours

Say hi to your neighbours and share a laugh over who’s the scariest! Throw a party with neighbours or family and use food to celebrate. Home-made ghostly pizzas or monster fruit salad anyone?

Sharing

Teach children to take one or two items at each location, not a handful!

Managing the lolly stash

If your kids are intending to trick-or-treat, support age-appropriate responsibility for kids to manage their sweets stash. Provide opportunity for children to enjoy their stash, while providing structure so that nutrition is not undermined. When your children arrive home from-trick-or- treating, allow them to sort their stash and eat as much of it as they want. Then put it away. After the evening of Halloween has passed, allow children to eat from their sweets stash at meal times (you decide the portion) and snack times (as much as they are hungry for) along with other everyday food. Keep the sweets stash out of reach in-between meals.

Learn about food, satiety and our body

Halloween is a great opportunity for kids to tune into their bodies. If your child eats too much and ends up with a tummy ache, what a great learning experience! With kindness, discuss with your child what they might do next time to avoid that uncomfortable or sick feeling.

Aussie Halloween etiquette

Leaving your front lights on in the evening of 31st October is a sign that you’re participating in Halloween celebrations. If you’d prefer not to partake, be sure to switch off. If you’re trick or treating, never knock on doors that are shrouded in darkness and respect everyone’s right to celebrate or not.

Alternative ways to celebrate

Halloween doesn’t need to be just about trick or treating and sweets.

Decorate your house, carve out an enormous pumpkin and scare trick or treaters with your cool costumes as they arrive.

Get the kids to help you make some fabulous sweet-free Halloween treats or pack some home-made Halloween-themed snacks in your child’s lunchbox.

Wishing you a fun-filled spooky evening!

Deb

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