While many kids wait all year for Halloween to come, their parents dread the annual sugar overload! But there are ways to let your kids enjoy their trick-or-treating loot without overindulging.
As soon your child arrives home, sort and check goodie bags. Though tampering is rare, you should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items. Remove anything your child may have an allergy to.
If your child is of a healthy weight
What do you do with all that candy? The best advice I can give to parents who want their children to develop healthy eating habits is the same advice Ellyn Satter, a renowned nutritionist and child eating expert gives — keep your interference to a minimum! Allow your child to manage, sort, play, and gloat over their stash! Let them indulge themselves a bit on Halloween and the day after. For most children who eat a healthy diet 363 days of the year, two days really won't make a difference! And kids may resent their parents if they start to act like the candy police!
Then establish some ‘rules’ and have your child put their stash away, relegating a couple of pieces a day for snack or dessert time. Serve sweets with a cup of milk for a source of protein. Encourage your child to continue to eat well-balanced meals three times a day. As long as your child follows the ‘rules’, they can continue to be in charge of their booty. Otherwise, take the candy away and only give it back once it is clear that the child can and will follow the rules. Chances are, your child will lose interest after several days of this routine!
Be aware that many studies have shown that restricting sweets doesn’t work. In fact, it tends to foster poor eating habits, including eating when not hungry and hiding food stashes.
If your child is overweight
If your child is overweight there are many strategies you can use to help him or her enjoy the holiday while staying on track with their weight-loss goals. For example, many of my patients will be donating or giving their candy to their parents in exchange for a non-food treat, such as money, or a manicure, or a video game. Many of my patients and parents find this a fun alternative to indulging in candy.
As for what to do with all that leftover candy purchased for trick or treaters? Throw it away or donate it! Take it to work to share with co-workers. Don’t keep it in the house! No one needs the extra sugar, and if it’s in the house, chances are it will be eaten!
Although there is no such thing as healthy Halloween candy, candies that contain nuts, dried fruit or dark chocolate are a little healthier than candies that contain sugar as the main ingredient. I would steer clear from Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Nerds, SweeTARTS, Starbursts and the like. A better choice would be a small bag of Peanut M&M’s, Goobers, Raisinets or a Mini PayDay Bar. My favorite Halloween candy would be either Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses or Special Dark Mini Bars. Dark chocolate is more satisfying than milk chocolate, and eating dark chocolate decreases the desire to eat additional sweet foods. Studies have shown that consumers of milk chocolate ate significantly more calories of chocolate than consumers of dark chocolate.
Healthy LifeWays is located in Valley’s state-of-the-art medical office at 140 East Ridgewood Avenue in Paramus. To make an appointment with Dr. Sakowitz-Sukkar, or for more information about Health Lifeways, please call 201-316-8438.