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Your kids have their costumes ready and are counting down the days until October 31st! Maybe you’re having a party with school friends or plan to just walk the neighborhood. Whatever your plans, be sure to include some heart-healthy fun in the mix.

Try these tips to mapumpkin jack-o-lanternske your Halloween festivities a little healthier for your family, party guests and all those trick-or-treaters.

For the Trick-or-Treater

  • Fill up first. What kid doesn’t want to eat their favorite candy right when it goes into their trick-or-treat bag? Having a healthy meal BEFORE your kids go trick-or-treating can reduce their temptation to snack while walking or to overindulge, because their tummies will be full.
  • Bag it. Be sure to find the right size collection bag for your child and steer clear of the pillow case method. If you encourage your child to only take one piece of candy from each house, they’ll be able to visit more houses in the neighborhood.
  • Get rid of it! Worried you’ll have leftover Halloween candy until long after Valentine’s Day? Using a smaller bag will help, but sometimes kids STILL end up with a ton of extra sweets. Here are some ideas of what to do with the leftover candy:
    • Keep enough candy for one piece a day for one or two weeks (long enough for the excitement to wane). Throw away, donate or repurpose the rest.
    • When your child asks for a piece of candy, make sure to pair it with a healthy snack: an apple, a banana, some nuts, or celery with peanut butter.
    • “Buy back” candy from your child with money or tokens they can trade in for a fun activity: a day at the zoo, an afternoon playing at the park, going ice skating, or a day at the pool.
    • Some dentists’ offices have buy-back or trade-in programs, too.
    • Save it for holiday baking.
    • Donate excess candy to a homeless shelter or care package program for troops overseas. A familiar sweet treat from home can be comforting at the holidays.
    • Save it to fill the piñata at the next birthday celebration or give out with Valentine cards.
    • Use it in an arts and crafts project or to decorate a holiday gingerbread house.
    • Throw it away! And don’t be tempted by the half-priced candy after Halloween!
  • Get moving. Get some exercise by making this Halloween a fun family physical activity event. Set a goal of how many houses or streets you’ll visit, or compete to do as many as you can. Bring a bottle of water and wear comfortable shoes for walking!
  • Safety first. Check expiration dates and inspect all edibles before allowing children to eat them. Don’t let children eat anything with questionable or unknown ingredients, especially if they have food allergies.
  • Have a plan. Halloween can be a great time to talk with kids about making smart choices, the need for balance and moderation, and how to achieve an overall healthy eating pattern. Plan in advance how much candy they’ll be allowed to take at each house, keep and eat. If they’re old enough, let them help decide what to do with excess candy.

For the Party Host

  • Up the fright factor. Serve healthy snacks dressed up in the Halloween theme. There are lots of creative ideas being shared online at this time of year!
  • Play with food. Incorporate healthy foods into activities, such as decorating oranges like Jack-O-Lanterns, making banana ghosts, and bobbing for apples.
  • Keep ‘em moving. Include plenty of physical activities, like a zombie dance party, three-legged monster race, spider crawl or pumpkin toss.
  • Rethink your drink. Don’t forget that cutting back on sugary treats includes soda and sugar-sweetened beverages. Offer water, unsweetened tea, 100% juice, or fat-free/low-fat milk instead. Make a festive Halloween punch from sparkling water and a splash of 100% orange juice, garnished with plenty of orange slices and black grapes or blackberries.

For the Stay-At-Homer

Be THAT house. You don’t have to pass out candy on Halloween. Start a new tradition on your street and give out healthier treats or non-edible items. Get creative! Here are some ideas.

Healthier Treats:

  • Clementines or small oranges decorated like Jack-O-Lanterns (with non-toxic ink)
  • 100% juice boxes or pouches
  • Snack-sized packages of pretzels, popcorn, dried fruit, trail mix, nuts or pumpkin seeds
  • Snack-sized packages of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as baby carrots or apple slices
  • Mini boxes of raisins
  • 100% real fruit strips, ropes or leathers
  • Squeezable yogurt tubes or pouches
  • Sugar-free chewing gum

Non-edible items:

  • Glow sticks or small glow-in-the-dark toys
  • Crayons and coloring books
  • Stickers or stamps
  • Soap bubble makers
  • Plastic spider rings or vampire teeth

Be careful to avoid giving very small items that could be a choking hazard to little ones.

  • Who’s in charge? Hand out treats to each trick-or-treater – one per child – instead of letting them decide how much to take. If you have more than one item, ask them to choose which they prefer. This is a great way to get control of your Halloween budget, too!
  • Avoid the whole mess. Want to avoid candy and masses of kids at your door? Dress your family up in their costumes and go see a movie. Or deliver healthy Halloween treats to your local police and fire stations, nursing home or children’s hospital.

Source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/How-to-Have-a-Heart-Healthy-Halloween_UCM_317432_Article.jsp#.WAuNTfkrKM8

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16830095It’s the holidays and for most Americans, that means eating – lots of eating – followed by weight gain and a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

But why not take a healthier approach to what we eat during this holiday season and beyond?

According to a recent website survey, about 18 percent of people say it’s hard for them to eat healthy because they don’t want to stop eating their favorite foods. The good news is you don’t have to. You can still enjoy your favorite occasional indulgences, but in moderation. It’s all about being mindful of what you eat.

When you pay attention to what you’re eating, you can make small changes that make a big difference. Here are some tips toward a more mindful approach:

  • Control portions. Especially during the holidays, know that you’ll have more opportunities to eat festive snacks and desserts. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just eat smaller portions and less often.
  • Eat when you’re hungry. Just because the clock says noon doesn’t mean you have to eat. If you’re not hungry, wait until you are – just don’t wait until you’re famished because you might overeat. Also, don’t eat just because the food is available. Learn more about why you might be eating when not hungry.
  • Plan. Prepare healthy snacks throughout the day. If you tend to get hungry between meals, bring along a 200-calorie, whole grain, high-fiber snack. Fiber keeps you feeling full longer. Learn how a little planning helps your heart, and your budget.
  • Slow down. Enjoy each bite and put your fork down while chewing, then take a drink between each bite. This gives your body enough time to trigger your brain that you are satisfied (not necessarily full).
  • Pay attention. Do not eat in front of the TV or computer, or while standing in the kitchen or talking on the phone. When you do these things, you’re more likely to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
  • Use technology. As we continue to become increasingly distracted by modern technology, our focus on health can fall to the back burner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can actually use our smartphones and other electronic devices to help us. There are now apps that manage food records, count calories, help you track what you eat and even provide guidance on healthy food choices at the grocery store and restaurants.
  • Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat, look at it, then identify why you ate it – was it hunger, stress, boredom? Then look for areas you can make adjustments and incorporate healthy changes. Keeping a food diary is really key to awareness. Most people are surprised at all they’ve consumed when they review what they’ve eaten.

Ready to get started? Download this holiday eating guide from the American Heart Association.

Original Article from American Heart Association

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