Keep Your Kids Healthy This Halloween (and Yourself)

It was such an honor and pleasure to have interviewed USC’s premier dietitian for most of the female athletes, Kristy Morrell. Kristy is one of the VERY FEW dietitians I know who really knows her stuff. Her extensive background in counseling patients on eating disorders and disordered eating widens her foundation beyond the athletes she coaches at USC. I have the pleasure of working with Kristy on other great projects, which is a blessing.
The number one thing Kristy is exceptional about is educating her own children about the fundamentals of WHY they need to eat the way she feeds them. She has a great approach which she agreed to share with you. I filmed her and her boys at a Pumpkin Patch on Wilshire about the things her family does for Halloween to keep the kids blood sugars in check on Halloween, while satisfying their desire to eat their treats beyond the holiday.  Watch it below…

Here is my interview with Kristy:

JZ: I am so glad you came. I would love to know how can parents ensure healthy children beyond the Halloween holiday? Also touch upon how they can avoid falling into the candy trap themselves.
Kristy: To keep them healthy during Halloween?
JZ: Yes, because they go trick or treating and then you have all this candy which they would love to eat, but then there is the Halloween aftermath where you as the parent can steal it, bring it to the office, or feed it to your kids after school or during school. What do you do? Give us five good tips!
Kristy: You got it! Tip #1 Never go to work or school without packed snacks! The biggest tip for adults is to pack snacks during this holiday. Coworkers bring candy in but if you bring your own snacks in, then when you get hungry , you are less likely to turn to that huge bowl of Butterfingers and Twix because you were prepared. As far as the kids go, they can choose their Halloween treat during lunch or when they get home. They only get one treat a day, but they also get healthy meals packed with that treat for school.
Tip #2: Don’t even have one. If you start with one, it’s like opening up Pandora ’s Box and one can turn to 5. So instead of relying on the office candy, bring in your own piece of dark chocolate and eat that instead. All that other candy is so processed and artificial it leaves you craving more.
JZ: So is it true that the processed candy has addictive ingredients in it that causes you to crave more?
Kristy: Yes! I would say because a lot of it has processed ingredients that it doesn’t even satiate you so it requires you to eat more of it for your brain to even realize it had any of it. When you eat something real that has real wholesome ingredients without the artificial stuff, it actually makes you feel satisfied much quicker than something that has a lot of particles in it that don’t get metabolized by the body, which leaves your body wanting more. I teach my kids about this. If you are going to eat something sweet, make sure it is something of quality from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, for example, that have candies made from fruit juice or vegetable juice. The even bigger key is moderation. Sugar is sugar. Limit your children even if they beg and cry..Some parents think that the kids should eat as much as they want on Halloween but to me it isn’t a smart choice.
Kristy: Tip #3: Educate your kids. Let them know why is it important to eat this way, and that they should avoid consuming food with food dye. On the way to school, instead of listening to the radio, have a conversation with your kids about what you packed in their lunch and why you packed it. This way they know what they should be having. (Kristy’s boys walked over with a whole wagon of pumpkins and Kristy was like, “um….We are not buying all of these pumpkins..”LOL)So my kids know what protein, carbs and fats are. Educating them when they’re young is key. Especially when it comes to playing sports….(Kristy shouts out to her sons: “Dylan and Devon! When can you drink Gatorade?) They respond, “Only during a game… Because if you drink too much of it,” he continues, “then there is no purpose to it other than to drink it during sports.” Kristy asks, “And what should you always eat with carbohydrates?” Dylan responds with, “A protein!”( I was laughing so hard) If my kids eat a bowl of pasta, then they need to eat turkey meat balls or a chicken breast. Help them understand that this will balance out their energy and avoid high and lows, helping them sustain balanced blood sugars. It’s important to educate your children as to why on Halloween they shouldn’t eat all their candy. Come up with “x” amount of candy that they get that night. For example, my boys get 4 pieces of their favorite candy on Halloween and 1 piece of candy each night after that. But, I end up throwing quite a bit of it away because if they trick or treat for 2 hours then that is a lot of candy. I don’t want my boys to eat Halloween candy for months on end because they don’t really need it.

JZ: Now that’s a great way to Trick them with their Treats….
Kristy: Yup!!! Tip #4: 80/20 Rule. If my kids eat their healthy dinner, with lots and lots of vegetables, then they get their treat. If they choose to eat pizza or a hot dog and they don’t eat their broccoli and some cut up strawberries, then they don’t get candy that night. I tell them that I am not going to allow them to put candy into their bodies if they just ate a hot dog and not the healthy stuff that their bodies need.
Kristy: Tip #5: Hydration is key. Many kids aren’t drinking enough fluids each day, preferably from water, so they might mistake hunger for thirst. Especially with this hot weather we are experiencing in LA, the kids aren’t rehydrating.
JZ: Do teach your kids about the right urine color to help them know whether or not they are hydrated?
Kristy! YES! “Dylan,” she yells…”Come here…What color should your pee be?” He states, “white!” Krsity corrects him, “very good-clear!” So if its dark, what does that mean. Dylan responded with, “Can we go in the bouncy house?” Kristy said, “Yes, but what does it mean if your pee is dark?” Dylan responded with, “You’re dehydrated. “ Good job, she said.
JZ: This 6 year old is so smart. So cute….
Kristy: It’s all about educating your kids. I am lucky to have such sweet boys…
JZ: And your way of parenting is engaging and it truly sticks with them so great job not only creating these two intelligent young boys, but for sharing your best parenting practices (and nutritional expertise) with
Kristy: Thank you for having us on. This was fun!

NutritionJennifer Zerling