Some sage tricks for sensible treats

Here are some things to consider when planning for Halloween.

1. Buy your candy between October 28th – 31st, not any sooner.

If junk food is in the house, chances are you’ll eat it. Those mini Twix and Coffee Crisp bars are impossible to resist. After trick-or-treating, goodies may linger in the pantry for a few weeks, so why make it even worse by having a house full of candy BEFORE the holiday too? Another benefit to shopping late – the closer it gets to Halloween, the more likely you’ll find bags of candy at up to 50% off the usual retail price.

2.  Allow candy, but set some limits.

Since children work well with structured plans and clear rules, set limits in advance of Halloween so they have realistic expectations. Let children know that they can have a precise number of treats each day for a specified time period. I usually let my daughter have a treat or two each day for a week after Halloween, but each family needs to set rules that work for them. Another idea that some of my colleague use is to separate a few favourite candies into each of seven small bags and celebrate “Halloween Week” with one treat bag each day.

3. Store candy out of your child’s sightline.

Children will be constantly tempted by a big bowl of Halloween candy that’s kept as a centrepiece on your kitchen table. After they return with their haul, keep the treats on top of the fridge or behind cupboard doors instead.  They’ll be more likely to forget about it if they don’t constantly see it. This trick also works well for adults! My husband notoriously eats more candy if it’s in his sightline, but forgets about it when I tuck it away.

4. Question the advice to stuff your kids before they go trick-or-treating.

I often see articles that advise parents to offer their kids a hearty meal before the big event, since a child who feels full may eat less candy. Really? The truth is, no matter how full my daughter is, she always has room for candy! A sensible meal is the best way to go. A hearty meal plus the extra candy calories is a sure-fire route to a tummy ache.

5.  Remember: the overall diet matters more than a few days of treats.

A healthy eating pattern for you and your children includes lots of vegetables and fruit, more whole than refined grains, and lean protein choices such as legumes, fish and skim milk. If these are your staple foods on most days, having a few mini candy bars for a couple of days is an acceptable treat that will not cause any problems. If your family’s diet is not healthy – if fast food, white bread and frozen entrees are nightly staples and vegetables are a rarity – too much candy at Halloween is not the problem that needs to be solved. 
The bright orange Halloween bowl that will grace my front door on Monday afternoon will be filled with mini chocolate bars. After my little Wonder Woman returns from her door-to-door candy grab, we’ll laugh together as she samples a few treats and revels in the fun and frivolity of Halloween, just as I did when I was a kid. And for the remainder of the week, I’ll send her to school with an afternoon snack of an apple and Smarties, if my husband doesn’t find where they are hidden.

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