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Parents: Use tricks to control kids' Halloween treats

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It’s October, and that means it’s time for a favorite holiday of children around the country.

Baked pumpkin seeds are an easy-to-make, healthy snack with lots of protein.   LARRY CROWE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Baked pumpkin seeds are an easy-to-make, healthy snack with lots of protein.

As a health and fitness professional, I feel that it is my responsibility to speak up about the caloric dangers of Halloween. If your children are like I was, they’ll come home with enough treats to fill a garbage bag. I used to eat candy non-stop for months without realizing the consequences. I know now that it’s not wise, but as a child, I didn’t know and I didn’t care.

That’s where you, the parent, come in.

Your little ones don’t care how much they eat because they don’t know about childhood obesity and rotten molars. As a father of two little sugar-seeking boys, I’ve developed some tricks that might help win the Halloween battle.

First, give in and let them have their candy. Although it might sound counterproductive, if you agree to let them eat – and monitor the intake – you gain control of the situation.

I do this year-round with my boys. When they want treats before bed, they grab a handful and ask whether they can have it all.

I always respond with, “You can have a treat tonight, but only two pieces.”

They’re usually happy to be able to have some candy, and I’m happy to be able to control the amount.

A more risky move is to sneak some of the candy out while your kids are sleeping or are at school. Just be aware that if you have a child that knows exactly how many pieces are in the stash, you’ll be busted.

If your kids are the type that always know exactly how many pieces of candy are in the bag, you can swap out some healthier alternatives while they’re out. Again, this only works if your children know the number, not the type of treats they have.

For this week’s easy fit mini recipe, try a protein-packed snack that you’ll most surely have in your house this month: pumpkin seeds.

Start by rinsing the seeds you pull from your jack-o’-lantern. Spread them across a cookie sheet, salt lightly and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. A handful of seeds is a much better snack (more protein, less fat) than that candy bar in the treat bag.