How to have a happy and healthy Halloween

October 28, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Halloween is just around the corner. That is why I’ve brought you today a round-up of what I feel are useful tips for a healthy and safe Halloween.

Halloween candy: Facts and myths
There are fears that Halloween treats poisoned but this is highly unlikely, according to experts. Instead, what we should be scared off are the calories, the sugars and the transfats. Health and nutrition experts at the University of North Carolina explain the facts and myths about Halloween candies, covering the following claims:

Check it out so you will know “how to tell truth from fiction as you stay safe and well on Halloween.”

Trick-or-treaters’ Halloween candy often picked off by parents
How’s these for Halloween statistics:

With these figures in mind, health experts are hoping the everyone – adults and children alike – will be practicing moderation this coming Sunday.

For healthy pumpkin, squash the urge to turn it into pie
Last week, I baked a pumpkin pie for the first time for my family and they didn’t like it. Pumpkin pie as Americans know it – sweet and full of calories – is not something to be easily found in Europe. Because pumpkins are seldom eaten here sweet. We do eat lots of pumpkin soup as well as pureed pumpkin. But never tried nor heard of pumpkin pudding or pumpkin doughnuts before. This article in USA Today gives a couple of alternative, low-fat, low-calorie recipes for pumpkins.

Tips to Green Your Halloween
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives us some tips on how to celebrate Halloween safely and toxic-free.
In particular, EWG warns consumers about the potentially harmful products in face paints, hairsprays and costumes. It gives recommendation on more natural alternatives in terms of make ups, treats, decorations and food.

Halloween the Healthy Way
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also sharing with us special Halloween tips with the following take home message: “Don’t be tricked this Halloween. Make better lifestyle choices to keep you and your family safe and healthy.” For this purpose, CDC has Halloween health e-cards for you to use and share – in English and in Spanish. Check them out!

Safety tips for Halloween

October 29, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Jack-o-lanternsBoo! Halloween is here. This Saturday actually. It can be fun but also dangerous especially for little kids. Health experts therefore give us some tips (from the American Academy of Pediatrics) on how to keep our little ones happy and healthy during this fun and spooky occasion. However, the tips can apply to adults as well.

On costumes:

  • Costumes should be visible – “bright and reflective”. All the better for motorists as well as supervising adults to see.
  • Avoid costumes/shoes that can cause tripping, entanglement, or asphyxiation.
  • Masks can obscure vision. Hats shouldn’t slide over the eyes. Face faints can cause allergic reactions (check out US FDA warning in face paints below).
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives.  Hats and wigs should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • Costumes, wigs and accessories should be flame resistant.  Check the labels.
  • Accessories such as a sword, cane, or stick shouldn’t be sharp, too long, or cause the child to trip.

On decorations:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins according to the AAP. They can draw the faces on the jack-o-lanterns but adults should do the cutting.halloween
  • Use votive candles for candle-lit pumpkins.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.
  • Avoid decorations that may be a fire hazard. Garlands can cause entanglement and choking.

On home safety:

  • Remove from the porch and front yard anything that trick-or-treaters could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, garbage cans, and lawn decorations. Clearly mark or temporarily fence off ponds. Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves are slippery and should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets, especially dogs so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite trick-or-treaters.
  • Lock up if you aren’t home at Halloween.

On the trick-or-treat trail:

  • An adult should always supervise young children on their neighborhood rounds. There is no age limit but parents should know when their kids are ready to go alone or not.
  • Use flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Teach children how to call somebody, be it 9-1-1, the local emergency number or their parents in case they have an emergency or become lost.
  • If older kids are going alone, plan and review the route that you feel is safe and emphasize that they should stick to the route, just in case you need to find them. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to houses with a porch light on and stay on the porch. Tell the kids never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Trick-or-treaters should stay together in a group.
  • Carry a cell phone and important numbers for quick communication.
  • Walk on the sidewalks and go on well-lit streets only. Don’t take shorts or cut across yards or use dimly lit alleys. Cross only on crosswalks.
  • Watch out for motorists.

candiesOn treats and sweets:

  • A good healthy meal before trick-or-treating will discourage kids on gorging on their booty.
  • Think about treats that can be alternative to sweets: sugar-free candies, whole grain cookies, little toys.
  • Advice kids not to eat any sweets until you’ve checked them out. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Pay attention especially if your kids have allergies. Check out the labels for undesirable ingredients.
  • Try to ration the sweets over several days.

On face paints:

Check out what the US FDA has to say about face paints and theatrical make up:

And don’t forget to have fun!

 

Photo credits: stock.xchng

Hope and Help for the Holidays – Halloween

October 14, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Halloween – This day can really throw a person with dementia into quite a tizzy. I mean, those scary masks and glaring jack-o-lanterns can cause the most stable of us to shudder.

Consider the following suggestions and tweak them to your personal circumstances:

1) Most of the activity for Halloween takes place from sun set into the evening hours. This will certainly cause a disruption in your loved one’s regular pattern. if your loved one “sundowns” then you could be in for a l-o-n-g evening.

2) If you plan to give out candy, etc. consider posting someone at the door to greet trick or treaters, that way, you’ll avoid the constant ringing of the doorbell or knocking on the door, which can cause nervousness or anxiety in your loved one.

3) If you or your children plan to dress up, consider the impact that your costume will have on your loved one. You know your 10 year old son is just your son in a vampire costume. However, your loved one may be seriously fearful of such a costume. Even a simple fairy or ballerina costume can throw your loved one for a loop for weeks.

4) If possible, feasible and practical, include your loved one in the celebration.

5) Be mindful of scary home decorations. Cobwebs and witches and jack-o-lanterns throughout the house can be really scary to someone with dementia and anything with fangs and blinking lights is probably a no – no as well.

6) Nix the noises. Depending on what stage your loved one is in, all of the explanation in the world is not going to help grandma to understand that the screaming sound is not real.

7) Consider the divide and conquer plan. If you love Halloween or have children that need to celebrate, then consider having someone to take your loved one out to dinner or consider inviting a friend or relative over to keep your loved one occupied (and away from the activity) while you celebrate.

Click here for a few more suggestions regading Halloween and the elderly.

I guess the bottom line here is that wherever possible and appropriate, you’ll want to include your loved one in holiday festivities. Just remember that you are not dealing with the same person that you were years ago. So, you may have to adjust your expectations and your loved one’s level of participation in order to make it a fun and enjoyable holiday versus a nightmare. I’ve had both, trust me limited participation is definitely the better option.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.