Halloween Tricks for Your Treats

By Christy Goff, Registered Dietitian

Halloween CandyHalloween night is exciting and fun … but then comes the sugar hangover the next day, week or even month! Let me share with you some tips and tricks for navigating that large pot of candy so you can have a healthier start to the holidays this year.

1.  Make a plan. Creating a plan with structure for you and your children keeps everyone on track. Some parents plan to indulge on Halloween night and then throw or give the rest away, while others put the candy bounty into plastic bags to have better portion control over the days that follow. Make your plan clear to your children as soon as you start talking about costumes and then stick to the plan throughout the holiday.

2.  Always eat a balanced dinner before trick-or-treating. This will reduce the chance that hunger will dictate the amount of sweets you will indulge in later on.Teaching yourselves and children about balance while allowing room for treats is an important conversation to have throughout the whole year to maintain a positive relationship with food choices.

3.  Understand portion sizes.Typically children should have no more than 1-2 pieces of candy per day and they should be given the candy with a meal to ensure the intake of healthy nutrients in addition. Even better, let them pick the meal they get to eat it at. Keep the candy in a special place so the kids can see it, but is not accessible easily, such as the top of the fridge or high counter. If there is just too much candy to manage, try using the rest as an art design, a lesson in sharing with others or throw it away.

4.  Don’t deny treats or use them as a reward. Typically prohibiting treats or using them as a reward causes the desire for sweets to grow even more, especially if they are forced to do something they don’t want to do like clean, eat their veggies etc.Your child will to learn to manage sweets better if they are given in the same meal and treated the same as any other foods.Go back to your plan and decide what works best for your family to allow treats in moderation.

5.  Enjoy the night! Focus on celebrating the holiday and spending time with family and friends.Remember that a balanced diet is created over time and all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, including treats.

For more information about Halloween treats and good health, visit the Ellyn Satter Institute.