One magical night each year, your neighborhood becomes your children's dreamland -- full of chocolate, caramel, lollipops and taffy.
That night is Halloween, of course, and by the end of the trick-or-treating, you may be amazed at the amount of candy filling your little ones' bags. You know they don't need all those sweets, but there's really no avoiding them either. Your best hope for dealing with the sugar shock is to come up with a plan.
The first thing to keep in mind, according to Rosemary Nagy, RD, pediatric dietitian at St. Louis Children's Hospital, is that all foods, even sweets, are part of a healthy diet. "You don't have to make your kids throw all their candy out," says Nagy, "but sweets should be eaten sparingly. Aim for that, and you'll be halfway there."
Nagy suggests that you talk to your children about your expectations for their candy consumption before Halloween comes. "One good guideline to talk about up front is how much candy they can eat on Halloween night. Two or three pieces is really plenty at one time," says Nagy, "so let them pick a few of their favorites to have all at once as a treat."
Another tip is to have your children separate candy into piles of what they really like and what they can live without. "Take the pile of candy they don't care about and get rid of it right away, such as taking it to your office for your coworkers," suggests Nagy.
After Halloween night, Nagy says candy should be consumed at a rate of just a few pieces each day. "Put a piece in with their lunch as a treat, or let them have a piece as an after-dinner sweet," she says. If you find your household still has more candy than you know what to do with, try some creative ways of dealing with it. "Candy bars can be frozen and eaten later, and some candies can be great used in recipes. Adding M&M's™ to a healthy homemade trail mix or melting chocolate bars to dip fruit in will let your children have their sweets along with something a little healthier," explains Nagy.
Safety Hints for Halloween
Make sure your little ghosts and goblins are safe while trick-or-treating by following these hints:
- Choose costumes without masks so your child's vision is not blocked
- Always walk on sidewalks and driveways
- Carry a flashlight
- If children are old enough to go without a parent, have them plan a route and stick to it