Halloween hints on costumes, candy and calories

Halloween is almost here ... and here are some tips to save money (and maybe teeth).

Costume deal

We are nearly ready for Halloween at our house. The 4-year-old’s red ninja costume has arrived. I found it for $9.99 on clearance at CostumeExpress.com. And I used a coupon code to get 10 percent off that, so I even splurged for the $1.99 plastic nunchucks! (Just use Google to find a promotional code that fits your purchase.) He’s thoroughly enjoying playing dress-up.

The tween and her friends are going the popular route: Lady Gaga wigs, masks and gloves for them all.

She’s already gotten extra mileage out of the $13 wig: She dressed as her history teacher for “celebrity day” at school — and earned an extra class pass.

Free pancakes at IHOP

The people at IHOP promise treats, not tricks, throughout the month of October. IHOP will be featuring Trick or Treat All-You-Can-Eat Buttermilk Pancakes and “design your own” Scary Face Pancakes, which will be given out free — one per child — to kids 12 and younger on Friday, Oct. 29.

Did you know that all IHOP Kids menu items are under 600 calories? Visit IHOP.com for more info and participating stores.

Control candy consumption

And speaking of tradition and nutrition: The Candy ... oh, The Candy ...

Shauna Johnson, nutrition instructor at Wellspring Academies, a residential weight-loss program for overweight teens, sent some great tips on how to keep kids happy and healthy — but not overloaded on sugar.

Her recommendations:

Wait to buy your candy. We tend to eat what’s in the pantry. This year, try waiting until trick-or-treat day to buy your candy or at least hide it somewhere until then.

Plan your own activity. Halloween is about having fun, not hoarding stashes of candy. Corn mazes, haunted houses, even planning your own party are activities that take the focus off sugary treats. (We plan to go to Springboro’s Windmill Farm Market to celebrate the season.)

Limit the amount you grab. It’s hard to not take a handful of anything that’s free, but limiting your children to only one item at each of your stops is a healthy start. At the very least, it’s polite for the trick-or-treaters after them.

Offer healthy alternatives. Don’t worry about getting toilet-papered, not every house needs to offer candied apples. Gum, hard candy, glow sticks/glow necklaces, and plastic rings are all popular, healthy alternatives.

Ration the amount of candy eaten afterward. According to Johnson, the typical dietary recommendation for candy is a maximum intake of 22 pounds per year for a 12-year-old child — a good portion of which can often be eaten in a single night during Halloween. But don’t let doling out the occasional treat haunt you. Offer one after a healthy lunch, exercise or a homework session.

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