Halloween is coming up, and with it a nutritional nightmare.
Kids can come home with literally pounds of candy, and then parents have to figure out what to do with it; let them have it all at once? Dole it out until Easter? Donate three-quarters of it to the food bank?
Experts say that the best course of action is to tell the kids ahead of time that you are going to commandeer the candy when they get it home, and then ration the candy out a bit at a time, trying to keep it to about 100 calories’ worth per day. That keeps kids from gorging on candy, which can cause headaches and nausea and a blood sugar spike leading to a crash later on.
To make kids less likely to complain, make a fun project of making candy packets out of folded, stapled brown paper lunch sacks, each containing two or three pieces of candy, and tucking them into lunch boxes for the next little while.
Candy generally should be served right along with or after a meal, so that it doesn’t cause a sudden rise in blood sugar.
Some parents recommend feeding kids a hearty, protein-rich meal before letting them head out to haunt the neighbors Halloween night. That way they aren’t as tempted to stuff themselves.
Dentists, however, sometimes suggest letting the kids feast Halloween night–and then getting rid of the rest of the candy altogether. That way kids’ teeth aren’t getting a daily acid bath from bacterial reaction to the sugar.
Some dentists even offer to buy candy back; check out the Monroe’s Monitor’s Halloween page next week for details.
You could even offer to trade your kids’ candy in for something else, like books, toys, games or experiences like a nice scary post-Halloween trip to the reptile zoo. Then you can take the rest of the candy to work and set it out in a dish, where hopefully it will be gone or thrown out within days.
Once children have eaten candy, make sure they brush immediately to halt the damage.
Other candy-limiting ideas include not buying Halloween candy early–or perhaps at all.
Having candy around the house long before the holiday tends to lead to several days worth of preemptive snacking. And if you want to make yourself a Halloween hero to other parents while sparing yourself temptation, be the house on the block that hands out silly bands or other cool non-candy swag. Check out a local Halloween store for ideas.