Autumn is officially here. Leaves of orange, red and brown hues litter sidewalks and streets and the sun sets much earlier.
Now is the time for seasonal celebrations like Halloween that inspire people to decorate and dress in costumes. And although the urge to hoard and eat candy and other treats may be overwhelming, it is important to remain vigilant and exercise precaution during the festivities.
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) urges the public to reduce the intake of sugary sweets during the holiday and recently released a list of tips for candy consumption.
“The key is everything in moderation. In Chicago, 3-7 year olds have more than twice the obesity rate (22 percent) than that of young children in the US as a whole (10 percent), so we need to be more active in curbing bad habits and instilling healthy eating habits. This is the perfect opportunity for families to have those important conversations about healthy eating with their children,” stated Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Public Health, in a press release.
Tips from the CDPH:
1. Consider purchasing non-food treats for trick or trick-or-treaters, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
2. Curb the candy by providing healthier treats for trick-or-treaters, such as individual packs of raisins, pretzels, or 100 calorie packs.
3. Give children a good meal prior to parties and trick or treating to discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
4. When kids come home with candy, take control. Let them keep some and give some away to food banks or charities. Many dental offices also have programs to incentivize donating candy.
5. Always think about the health of your teeth to prevent tooth decay: Sticky candies like gummies and taffy adhere teeth. Hard sugary candies are held in the mouth longer, giving bacteria in the mouth more time to create acid that weakens tooth enamel.
6. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items. Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.
Halloween coincides with the flu season. The CDC advises individuals who are ill to stay at home. Hand washing is important because it prevents the spread of germs to others. Dressing appropriately is also critical because exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious health problem, the CDC cites.
Costume safety is crucial, especially for children. Accessories such as swords, knives and other costume paraphernalia should be short, soft, and flexible.
The CDC also has a few tips for children before they go trick-or-treating.
Tips from the CDC:
- Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
- Do not trick or treat alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
- Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don’t run from house to house.
- Look both ways before crossing the street.
- Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
- Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
- Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
Sources: Chicago Department of Public Health, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
by Thelma Sardin