We’re living in a health-conscious time when parents are motivated (dare I say, pressured?) to limit their children’s sugar intake, and this is never more apparent than at Halloween time – a holiday centered around trick-or-treating for candy. It’s a bit of a conundrum. We want our children to have fun, to participate in this American tradition, but we’re very concerned about them indulging in too much of the bad stuff – sugar.
As such, lots of parents have come up with ways to limit their children’s Halloween candy consumption without cutting back on the trick-or-treating fun. If you’re still evaluating your candy strategy, consider some of these ideas.
Worry less about candy and more about overeating.
Dr. Dina Rose, of the blog It’s Not About Nutrition, suggests it’s more important to prevent overeating than to worry about exactly how much candy your kids are consuming. Rather than trying to fill them up with dinner so that they won’t have room for candy later (because you know they’ll still eat it), offer a light dinner on Halloween night to allow them the chance to eat some candy. For the days following Halloween, center the conversation around eating a balance of foods, not about restricting candy.
Downsize your candy bag.
Your children can only consume as much candy as they’ve collected, so use smaller trick-or-treating bags. Your kids will feel like they’ve scored a lot of loot, but they’ve actually gathered a more reasonable amount.
Toss some candy right away.
While checking the safety of the candy collected, have your children identify their favorites and the things they don’t like. Get rid of the unpopular candy immediately so that they (and you) aren’t tempted to eat it just because it’s there.
Store candy out of sight.
You and your children will be more tempted to eat candy when it’s on clear display. Try stashing it in a high cabinet or somewhere else out of plain view, and you’ll all forget about it in no time.
Limit candy consumption by age.
Each child gets to eat as many pieces of candy as they are years old. A three-year-old gets three pieces to enjoy; the seven-year-old gets seven pieces. As for the rest of the candy collection, they say sayonara.
Limit the amount of candy your child can eat at any given time. For maximum buy-in, work with your kids to agree on the daily ration. If you really want to teach them about budgeting and planning, tell them the candy has to last until next Halloween!
Let them binge but only for a short time.
Let the kids go nuts and eat as much as they want on Halloween or maybe even for the entire week after the holiday. Once their binge period is over, toss the remaining candy. You might be surprised to find that when there are no restrictions on candy, the excitement of consuming it in large quantities fades pretty quickly.
Hand it over.
If your goal is to get the candy out of the house as fast as possible, use a motivator to encourage your kids to part with their candy pronto.
The Dentist. Some dental offices will give children money for the candy they turn into the office. They can use that money to buy something for themselves (except more candy). This is also a great chance to talk about other options for what to do with money: saving and donating.
The Halloween Fairy. This fairy is also known as the Switch Witch. She collects candy on Halloween night and leaves behind new toys or other small trinkets for the kids to find in the morning.
What to do with all the leftover candy?
If it feels wasteful to you to toss all those uneaten goodies into the garbage, click below for creative ways to use the leftover candy.
How do you help your kids enjoy the spoils of their trick-or-treating endeavors without overindulging? Share your methods in the comments!
Editor’s note: This post originally published on October 30,2018.