When it comes to those bags, buckets and pillowcases of candy, most parents go with a “It’s just one night! Just let them enjoy it!” approach. And most nutrition experts give surprisingly similar advice!
The problem is that those bags and buckets and pillowcases have gotten bigger and bigger, and kids today often extend the candy-eating festivities beyond one night to several days, weeks or until their stash has been completely consumed. This steady diet of fun-sized sugar infusions can be hard on you—and your child’s health. (Check out this free printable poster The Calorie & Sugar Cost of Halloween Candy.)
Most nutrition professionals will advise a gradual weaning of the candy experience. That way, you don't have to make an issue of it, and the kids can enjoy their Halloween treats.
Here are some ideas to help you eliminate the magnetic draw of candy while minimizing the emotional trauma of trashing it—a personalized Halloween Treat Exit Strategy:
Lay Down the Law. Be clear about candy rules. From one piece per day to free indulgence for one week, your rules about when, how much and how long the Halloween treats will be available is key to regulating the candy influence.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Young children tend to be “in the moment.” If the moment includes candy, they will want it. Hide Halloween candy out of sight, in a high place or where it is not easily detected. This helps both children and adults reduce their overall consumption.
Let the Switch Witch Make a Visit. Let your child pick out the 10 most important Halloween treats, and place the rest in a large bowl. Leave the bowl in a central location before bedtime. Overnight, the Switch Witch visits, trading out the candy for a toy or other gift. (Hint: The Switch Witch is you-know-who …)
The Freezer Goblin. “He” eats the candy (placed in the freezer in a freezer bag), keeping it fresh. Both “out of sight” and inconvenient, storing candy in the freezer can reduce consumption, while saving it for other activities throughout the year.
Operation Gratitude or Candy Buy-Back Programs. These programs buy back candy by the pound and send it off to the troops to show them gratitude for serving our country.
The Office. Send your candy in to your spouse’s office, or bring it into your own, and let the adults fight over it.
Get Crafty. Save candy and use it to decorate gingerbread houses, or make a candy wreath for Thanksgiving.
Shower a Shelter. Donate candy to a women and children’s shelter, a soup kitchen or a food pantry.
Stuff It. Use Halloween candy to stuff a piñata. It’s awesome for birthday parties!
Experiment. Melt it, boil it or mix it. You name it—with candy, the sky is the limit. There is even a guide book on an array of scientific experiments you can do with candy.
Chuck It. No explanation needed.
Whatever you decide, you don’t have to live with the ghostly temptation of Halloween treats forever.
And don’t forget to feed your child well throughout the Halloween holiday—before, during and afterward. Start the day with a wholesome, filling breakfast, encourage a healthy lunch, and be sure to eat a nutritious dinner before you head out for the night.
Find more from Jill Castle, America’s Childhood Nutrition Expert.