How to Have a Healthy Halloween

Halloween is almost here again!  Halloween can be a day full of fun but it can also be an unhealthy or potentially dangerous day.  Below are some tips for parents for this Halloween.

Health and Dental Tips

Tip #1: Don’t go batty for the candy!

Of course, as your Arlington / Mansfield area dentists, we would prefer you not to have so many sugary sweets – but we must admit we’ll probably enjoy a little ourselves.  The key is moderation.  Many kids get a bag full of candy and at the end of the night the parents go over the haul with them.  It is always very exciting  and most kids know better than to eat all that candy in a day or two (or they have learned from past tummy aches).  Most children will ration the candy out over time, perhaps a week or two or even a month or two.  This is where many problems occur, parents look at Halloween as one night of splurging but some children get enough candy and sugar that the splurge lasts much longer.

Many health conscious parents may not feed their kids many soft drinks or sugary snacks each day.  Now imagine that for a month or so the child has the equivalent of a couple of extra candy bars each day.  This can lead to hyperactivity of course, but it can also wreck a child’s metabolism.  Not only during the month, but at the end they will go through an actual sugar withdrawal that can include headaches and sluggishness.  That simple bag of candy everyone was excited about can cause negative health effects extending over several months.  Not to mention the potential increase in obesity.

Remember that sugary Halloween candy contributes to tooth decay. Candies do far more damage to teeth than to wrecking diet or behavior. Tooth brushing and flossing are extremely important after eating sweets or any foods that stick to the teeth.

When children get back home from trick-or-treating,  have them make two piles: one for the candy they want to keep, another for the candy they will not eat. Consider donating the second pile to a local senior citizens home, food pantry, Ronald McDonald House, or children’s hospital.  You can even make money off your stash and make a U.S. soldier’s day at the same time. This year, more than 1,000 dentists nationwide are buying candy from kids — $1 per pound — and then shipping it to U.S. troops overseas via Operation Gratitude as part of a Halloween Candy Buy-Back program, started by Wisconsin dentist Dr. Chris Kammer. He says that soldiers will receive toothbrushes, floss, and mouthwash with each handful of candy so that they can brush thoroughly afterwards. “You can’t get a cavity in a short amount of time with a handful of exposures to candy,” he says.

Also, consider substituting healthy treats and snacks for your party.  Feed your children well before going out and they will be less hungry and less likely to snack throughout the night.

Find a local dentist or doctor who has a candy buy back program.  The candy is usually exchanged for money or prizes and the actual candy itself is typically sent overseas to our troops.  Some parents may choose to exchange a toy or gift card for candy.

Tip #2: Flee the flu!

The flu season coincides with Halloween.  Many Halloween events have bounce houses and other play surfaces which are breeding grounds for viruses.  Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you during trick or treating and celebrations.  Wash hands often and thoroughly.  Get vaccinated beforehand.

Tip #3: Sleep tight before the fright!

A good night of sleep is always important every night, but with Halloween it is extra important.  Many children stay up later than normal during celebrations and almost all eat some candy that can make them stay awake later or interfere with sleep cycles.  A good night of sleep the day before helps tremendously.

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Tip #4: Avoid the clumsy costume!

Surprisingly there are a number of injuries annually on Halloween.  Many are due to ill-fitting costumes that cause children to slip and fall.  Some costumes also obscure vision which can cause trips as well as facial injuries as peripheral vision is blocked and the child turns quickly hitting something they would normally see.

Also, there are many injuries where children are hit by vehicles as they walk along the streets.  If the costume is black or dark, consider walking with a flashlight or something reflective and bright.  There are many Halloween flashlights that are available and cute yet create an added layer of safety.  Try to stay on the sidewalks where possible.  Stay in groups for added protection.

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Tip #5:  When in doubt, throw it out!

Make sure your children understand that no one eats any candy at all until back at home.  There it is best to empty your trick or treat bag onto the table and spread the candy out and overlook each piece.  Everything should be individually wrapped.  Anything that is open, damaged, or just odd looking should be thrown out.

So remember these tips and have a great, safe, and fun Halloween.  Visit Dr. Beck, Dr. Lamun, and Dr. Sing at our Arlington, TX Dental office or at our Mansfield, TX Dental office.

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