Healthy snacks for fall

Fall has arrived. The smells are all around; the leaves, the apples, the bonfires, the cider!

This season provides many opportunities for fun with family and friends, especially when it comes to seasonal treats and traditions. Enjoy the season along with your children, but make sure you are planning ahead to ensure that healthy habits are being practiced.

You signed up to provide treats and activities for your child’s fall party months ago! The party is next week. What will you bring? Your house is frequented by trick-or-treaters making their rounds. What will you be passing out at your house this year?

Here are some healthy tips provided by the University of Clemson Cooperative Extension:

Select a harvest theme for parties, focusing more on fun and less on food. Get children up and moving to use the calories they have consumed.

Offer kids fruits and vegetables of the season: pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, hot apple cider, popcorn or baked apples.

Think outside the box when choosing treats for trick-or-treaters or party-goers. The calories in all those bite-size Halloween treats add up quickly. Four “bite size” chocolate bars contain approximately 320 calories, 25 jelly beans have 140 calories and 20 pieces of candy corn add up to 100 calories.

Children also will enjoy non-food treats like the items typically given in birthday goodie bags, but remember to make sure the items you give are age appropriate and safe.

Encourage kids to be more physically active by giving small, inexpensive toys to get them up and moving (Examples: a bouncy ball, a jump rope, sidewalk chalk for drawing, beanbag for hacky sack, etc.)

If you choose candy for treats, look for those that are lower in fat and sugar. Choose bite-size candy bars based on the least amount of fat and calories per serving. Better choices are: 3 Musketeers; 100 Grand Bar; Butterfinger; Milky Way; Raisinets; Starburst and York Peppermint Patties. In addition, consider healthier dark chocolate versions.

Make Halloween a healthier and more inclusive holiday for children and adolescents with diabetes, food allergies or other health-related dietary restrictions by offering non-sugar treats and non-food treats.

But now, the party is over and your child arrives with a bag full of goodies. Or you’ve just made it back home after walking the neighborhood with your little goblins and the mound of candy is almost as tall as they are! As a parent or caregiver, what should you do now?

Always check your childrens’ candy and treats before they eat them, checking to make sure that items are still sealed and contain no dangerous contaminants.

Help kids include their treats in a healthy eating plan, set limits on when and how much candy they can have and stick to those limits.

Inventory your children’s candy, and don’t let them eat too many treats at once. Let kids choose a few pieces of candy to eat on Halloween night and then eat a few pieces each day after that. Forbidding or restricting candy may cause them to develop patterns of hoarding and obsession with candy.