Hillcrest South dietitian Nasrin Sinichi, MS, RD/LD, joins us on the blog today to talk about a healthy way to approach Halloween and all that candy!
For health-conscious parents, Halloween can be tricky. Do you set limits? Do you let kids decide how much to eat? There isn't just one right answer. Instead, use your best judgment given what you know about your child's personality and eating habits.
Kids who generally eat just a couple of pieces and save the rest might be trusted to decide how much to eat. But if your child tends to overdo it, consider setting limits.
Tips for handling the Halloween treats
Before kids go trick-or-treating, try to serve a healthy meal so they're not hungry when the candy starts coming in.
Consider being somewhat lenient about candy eating on Halloween, within reason, and talk about how the rest of the candy will be handled. Candy and snacks shouldn't get in the way of kids eating healthy meals.
Encourage your kids to be mindful of the amount of candy and snacks eaten and to stop before they feel full or sick.
If a child is overweight or you'd just like to reduce the Halloween stash consider buying back some or all of the remaining Halloween candy. This acknowledges the candy belongs to the child and provides a treat in the form of a little spending money.
Let them trade in their Halloween candy for something they have been wanting, like a video game, book, toy, trip to the movies, etc. or for fewer pieces of their favorite candy or treat.
Know how much candy your child has collected and store it somewhere other than the child's room. Having it so handy can be an irresistible temptation for many kids.
Parents of young children should also remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies and small toys.
Prepare a healthier alternative to the Halloween candy that they will bring home, including fruits, sugar-free treats, etc.
Tell children not to accept, and especially, not to eat anything that isn't commercially wrapped.
Try to apportion treats for the days following Halloween.
The day after Halloween, set limits for kids, say three pieces of candy after school each day, and then ask them to eat or do something related to health after they’ve met that share.
Be a role model by eating Halloween candy in moderation yourself. To help avoid temptation, buy your candy at the last minute and get rid of any leftovers.
When to Throw Away
An unusual appearance or discoloration
Tiny pinholes or tears in wrappers
Spoiled or unwrapped items
Homemade items or baked goods should be discarded unless you personally know who gave them.
When in doubt, throw it out.
You also can offer some alternatives to candy to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door. Here are some treats you might give out:
Promote a healthy Halloween in your neighborhood by handing out alternatives to candy such as party favors or trading cards, non-food treats, like stickers, pencils, toys, temporary tattoos, false teeth, little bottles of bubbles and small games, small boxes of raisins, healthy popcorn and sugar-free candy.
Give out individually packaged healthy treats like nuts, small bags of pretzels, sugar-free gum, trail mix, raisins, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, cashews, whole grain crackers, little bags of microwave popcorn or small boxes of cereal.
Have some treats available for children who may have allergies to peanuts or other nuts.
Skip the Halloween candy sale on November 1st. Cheap bags of candy may seem like a good buy, but you don't need the extra sugar and calories.
However, there are some kids who need to be extra careful. Children with diabetes, for instance, may have to follow strict guidelines as to how much candy they can have, if any. If your child has a health condition that could be exacerbated by a spike in blood sugar, definitely talk to your doctor for guidance on how to handle Halloween treats.