The days leading up to Halloween, and Halloween night itself are all full of activities, treats and fun for children. They get to wear costumes, go through haunted houses, and go trick-or-treating for candy. By the end of the night, children either have a bucket or pillowcase full of candy that they are itching to tear into or have already begun eating some on the way home.
Most parents realize that overloading on candy is not the best option for their children, but they often feel trapped because Halloween revolves around delicious, sweet confections. Of course, adults are not immune to Halloween snacking either. These tips will help prepare you and your child for a ghoulishly fun Halloween evening and week after, without the ghastly sugar highs and upset stomachs!
Take the focus off trick-or-treating
First, make costume design a part of the holiday. Rather than buying a costume in a bag, spend some time brainstorming about costume ideas with your child and then making the costume. Or if you do not have much time, have your child design an accessory for a prebought costume—Spiderman needs his webs!
After getting into the costume, initially choose an alternate event to trick-or-treating, such as going to a haunted house, pumpkin picking/carving, and hayrides. Contact a local pumpkin patch or haunted house to see when events are scheduled. Children will have lots of fun, especially while dressed in their favorite costume. Then if your kids still have some energy left, a little trick-or-treating is a nice way to conclude your day.
Once your children return home from trick-or-treating, allow them to choose a set amount of candy, and pick which ones they want. Also, as silly as this sounds, unless your children offer you some candy, do not eat their candy.
Allow them to select any two remaining pieces of candy every day until the stash is gone. Ask them which pieces they chose and why, so you learn which ones they prefer and watch their decision-making process. It may amaze you to learn about how much or little a child thinks about candy. Try to use that huge bag of candy as a math tool. Have your younger child practice counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, etc., sorting, and graphing.
Choose better candy options or give a toy instead
If you choose to offer snacks to trick-or-treaters, choose options that provide at least a little nutritional value. Compared to most other candies, dark chocolates, such as Hershey’s® Dark Chocolate Kisses® or Special Dark Miniatures, have a bit less sugar, plus some antioxidants.
Mini packages of popcorn, baked chips, pretzels, or Fig Newtons® provide some nutrients from the corn, potato, grains, or figs. If you give candy, give the mini-sized pieces rather than the fun-sized ones, which usually are at least twice the size and calories. This allows children to choose multiple candies for the same number of calories.
Try to avoid giving any snacks that are pure sugar. Look at the nutrient label and if the only calories come from carbohydrates and sugar (no fat or protein), then it is a safe bet that it is all sugar. Another alternative to all of these snacks are mini packs of sugar-free or regular gum, which are enjoyable for almost any kid!
If you do not want to give out candy or gum, researchers have found that children 3 to 14 years of age were just as likely to choose a small toy instead of candy. Think about passing out bouncy balls or temporary Halloween tattoos instead of candy. Visit your local party favor or discount store for even more ideas.
Out of sight, out of mind
Get rid of leftover candy and chips that you did not hand out as soon as possible. Donate the extras to a shelter, or to Operation Gratitude, which collects Halloween candy until early November to send to troops. Many dentist’s offices have Halloween candy buyback programs as well. If all else fails, throw out any extra candy. This way you and your children do not have devilishly unhealthy snack options staring you in the face. The sooner you return to normal habits, the sooner you can prepare for the next major holiday, Thanksgiving, which of course also revolves around food.
MOXIE Approved partner, Orange Beach Family Dentistry, will buyback your Halloween candy
This Halloween, trick-or-treaters can bring their candy to Orange Beach Family Dentistry in Orange Beach and receive $1 per pound (up to 5 pounds) and a goody bag!
Orange Beach Family Dentistry will send collected candy to Stockings for Soldiers (www.stockingsforsoldiers.org), an organization that ships care packages to our U.S. Troops overseas to make their holidays a bit brighter.
Candy will be collected at Orange Beach Family Dentistry, the office of Dr. Lauren H. Lee, at 25299 Canal Road Suite A5, Orange Beach, AL on Wednesday, Nov. 1st through Friday, Nov. 10th during current office hours.
The candy must be unopened. Please no bites. It will then be shipped to our troops overseas. You don’t need to be a patient of Orange Beach Family Dentistry to participate so tell your friends and family members!
References and recommended readings
Schwartz MB, Chen E, Brownell KD. Trick, treat, or toy: children are just as likely to choose toys as candy on Halloween. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2003;35(4):207-209.
Vinson JA, Proch J, Bose P, et al. Chocolate is a powerful ex vivo and in vivo antioxidant, an antiatherosclerotic agent in an animal model, and a significant contributor to antioxidants in the European and American diets. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54(21):8071-8076.
Contributed by Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, CDN
Reviewed and updated by Nutrition411.com staff September 5, 2017