Pediatrician and Childhood Obesity Expert Dr. Dyan Hes Reveals How Parents Can Encourage Kids to be Healthy on Halloween
On October 31st little ghosts, goblins, princesses, and creatures of all kind will once again march from one house to the next in search of sugary treats. Halloween can be scary, especially when it comes to the amount of calories and sugar consumed. Dr. Dyan Hes, Medical Director at Gramercy Pediatrics and Childhood Obesity Expert offers parents advice on how to navigate the sugary holiday.
“While taking away the candy seems like the obvious fix, it’s easier said than done,” says Dr. Hes. “No one wants to be the mean parent and kids won’t want to give up their sweets that easily. While I don’t condone binging on candy, I also don’t recommend taking all of it away. Instead, parents should place limits on how much my kids are allowed to eat at any given time.”
Dr. Hes offers some tried and true tips to help make Halloween a bit healthier for your little monsters:
1. Don’t Trick or Treat on an Empty Stomach – “Feed your kids an early dinner before they head out,” says Dr. Hes. “I live in an apartment building in New York City, which enables my kids to trick or treat at more than forty households in less than an hour! A full belly will make them less likely to gorge on candy bars and lollipops as they make their way around.” It’s also a good idea to carry some water with you to wash down all those sugary sweets they will eat along the way.
2. Pile it Up – After a successful trick or treat, kids usually love to dump their candy all over to see how much they were able to accumulate. Dr. Hes recommends taking this opportunity to sort the candy into piles – one pile they like and another they don’t. Take all of the castaways, put them in a bag and bring the bag to your office. Getting it out of the house gives the entire family a greater chance at maintaining a healthy diet.
3. Lead by Example – Instead of filling the basket by the front door with sugary confections, trade them in for healthier treats that kids will still enjoy. Dr. Hes suggests organic fruit snacks, organic safety lollipops, or even loose change! Kids love getting a few cents in their bags.
4. Get Moving – Halloween trick or treating is the perfect family outing. Instead of chauffeuring the kids around the neighborhood, encourage them to walk. They can even make a game out of it by using pedometers or activity monitors to track their movement and compete with their friends or siblings to see who took the most steps. “Small steps like taking the stairs instead of the elevator can also make a world of difference in getting them to be more active,” says Dr. Hes.
5. Shift Focus – Ingrain in your kids that Halloween is not only about the candy. Focus on other activities and crafts making a Halloween costume or pumpkin carving. (Don’t forget to bake the pumpkin seeds as a healthy snack!) Kids love to decorate the house or the front door with spooky decorations. Let them make homemade decorations instead of buying them. Use cotton to make spider webs or pipe cleaners. All fun should be had in costume, of course!
About Dr. Dyan Hes
Dr. Dyan Hes, recently named a 2013 top doctor by NEW YORK magazine, is the Medical Director of Gramercy Pediatrics in New York City and sits on the board of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Hes is double boarded in both pediatrics and obesity medicine. She completed her residency in Social Pediatrics at New York’s Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center. She currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Prior to founding Gramercy Pediatrics, Dr. Hes maintained a large primary care practice for ten years within Park Slope Pediatrics in Brooklyn. In addition, she developed and was the Director of the Pediatric Weight Management Program at New York Methodist Hospital. In conjunction with the Park Slope YMCA, Dr. Hes created the Be Fit program for overweight children, which has served as a successful model of collaboration between hospitals and community centers. An active advocate for pediatric and adolescent nutrition and weight management, Dr. Hes was honored by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz for her efforts to combat obesity among Brooklyn youth. In 2006, she served as an Expert Witness at the NYC Department of Health Hearing to Ban Trans Fat in Restaurant Food. Currently, Dr. Hes is a pediatrician serving as a Director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Hes practices both primary care and obesity medicine. She was named one of New York’s Top Doctors of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 by Castle and Connolly.