Did you know the average American consumes 25 pounds of candy each year, much of which is consumed around Halloween?  And, let’s face it, kids consume a large portion of that pile of sweets.

Kids are not going to stop wanting candy – particularly with Halloween coming soon – but what we do, as parents, to make our children understand the role of candy or sweets in their diet is a lot more important than helping them pick out a great costume (though that’s important, too!).

Because of nutrition’s critical role in health, growth and school performance, Junior Leagues have been at the heart of combating childhood obesity for years.  Now in its sixth year, The Junior League’s pioneering Kids in the Kitchen program is a hands-on, kid-friendly initiative supported each year by Leagues in more than 200 communities worldwide.  The Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen initiative is tailored to meet specific community needs while working to ensure that young people are educated to make healthy decisions and ward off the problems that poor eating habits and obesity create.

So how can parents help?  Here are some hints and recipes from Kids in the Kitchen tips that can help make Halloween – and the holidays that follow – both healthy and fun:

  • With Halloween just around the corner, plan to hand out some healthy alternatives to candy like fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks; fruit cups or applesauce cups; cheese sticks or cheese and crackers; non-food items like stickers, coloring books or bubbles.
  • Eat sweet foods high in sugar and fat once in a while and in small amounts.
  • The most nutritious liquids are 100 percent juices, low-fat milk, soup and smoothies.
  • Check out the Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen website for healthy recipes for holiday parties like Fire Ants & Grass Clippings, Holiday Quesadillas, and Monkey Mix.

So not just this Halloween but all year round, think healthy – and fun – eating.