How to Have a Healthy Halloween

After many traditional Halloween activities were suspended in 2020 due to COVID concerns, communities expect more children and families to venture out this fall to participate in trick-or-treat activities. LeeAnn Schumpelt, RN, Emergency Department Supervisor and Trauma Program Manager for Hill Country Memorial (HCM), offers some tips to make it a safe as well as memorable time for both tricksters and treaters.

“It’s important for parents to be mindful of the safety hazards that are out there, in order to protect your children,” Schumpelt said. “If your kids do go trick or treating, be sure they have an adult with them at all times.

Schumpelt shared these additional tips from the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council:
1) Use glow sticks or flashlights to see and be seen
2) Always walk on sidewalks, or facing traffic as far left as possible
3) Apply reflective tape and stickers to costumes and bags
4) Choose face paint instead of masks, so as not to obstruct a child’s vision
5) Drive slowly with headlights on
6) Let children make jack-o-lanterns using markers and paint rather than carving with knives
7) Serve a healthy meal beforehand and ration candy
8) Consider handing out non-food items such as pens, stickers, coloring books
9) Check all treats and throw out any spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious items
10) Remember… Have Fun!

As for minimizing COVID concerns, she noted that Halloween activities mostly take place outdoors with ample distancing. She recommends handing out candy outside the house and not letting anyone step inside, good advice anytime.

While common-sense caution is important, Schumpelt reminds parents not to add to children’s fears, beyond the traditional spooky Halloween experience.

“Let them have fun,” she said. “And when you’re there with your children trick or treating door to door to the houses that you know, that’s what’s fun for them.”

Sorting Your Candy to Avoid Cavities

Treats To Avoid

The chewy, sticky candies get stuck in the grooves and crevices of the teeth making it hard for saliva to wash them away which leads to tooth decay. Sour candies have a high acidity content which breaks down tooth enamel, making teeth susceptible to a cavity.

  • Gummies
  • Caramel
  • Sour Candy
  • Bubble Gum

Better Treat Choices

Better choices include milk chocolate and snack-size packets of pretzels or crackers. These options are less sticky and do not have high acidity, therefore are less harmful to teeth than gummies, caramels or sour candies. However, it’s important to limit snacking overall because a child’s dental health depends less on what they eat and more on how often they eat it.

  • Milk Chocolate
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers

Best Treat Choices

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that can inhibit bacteria from sticking to the teeth, preventing infections in gums and battling tooth decay. Sugar-free gum made with xylitol promotes the growth of tooth-protective, non-acidic bacteria which can make it nearly impossible for bacteria and plaque to form.

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Sugar-free gum