Halloween is a fun-filled family time for costumes, parties, friendly visits to neighbors, and of course, candy. Lots and lots of candy. Though the candy can bring temporary joy, it does inevitably also bring tummy aches and energy crashes that are less than pleasant for everyone involved. How can you manage the Halloween candy stash to allow for some fun while minimizing the unhealthy side effects? Here are my top 9 Halloween tips for staying happy, healthy, and sane.
1. Treat Halloween candy as a learning tool. Setting boundaries can be helpful for teaching kids how to manage eating treats. Decide what your family rules will be and lay them out in advance so the kids know what to expect.
2. Eat some real food before you head out for an evening of trick-or-treating. Having a full tummy can help prevent a full-out candy binge. This goes for chaperones too!
3. When you return from trick-or-treating, give your kids a little time to enjoy their stash. As long as they had a good supper, let them have a little fun with their bounty before collecting it and keeping tabs on it.
4. Collect Halloween candy and set aside the unhealthiest treats. This helps prune down the total amount of candy. For me this would include all candies with the word “hydrogenated” on the ingredient list and candy with artificial food coloring. I don’t recommend kids eat anything with hydrogenated oils, and I recommend keeping food coloring to a minimum. (One “trick” is to add these treats to the candy bowl at work instead of tossing them out)
6. Avoid the temptation to use candy as a reward, punishment, or a babysitter. Instead include a specific amount of it as part of structured meal and snack times. Let your child choose a certain amount (maybe two pieces) and include that with a scheduled meal or snack.
7. On days when candy is allowed, don’t allow other foods high in added sugars on the same day such as juice, sugary cereals, soda, or cupcakes and other desserts (from the latest Halloween party).
8. Remember to always brush kids’ teeth twice daily, especially on days when they are eating added sugars.
9. And finally, keep a supply of healthy snacks like fruit that can be offered as a ready-to-eat substitute when the requests for candy start.
Implement these easy suggestions to build a little structure into your trick-or-treat routine. Have fun and stay safe. Happy Halloween!
Angela Larson is a registered dietitian (RD) who works with Brookshire Brothers promoting real fresh, real delicious healthy foods and providing nutrition education to the community. She is also a clinical dietitian representing Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin where she does community education on food and nutrition. Food is her passion, so Angela loves trying new recipes and exploring the more holistic side of nutrition. Angela loves to cook, garden, and spend time outdoors. Look for Angela's monthly articles in Charm East Texas.