8 Ways to Cut Back on Halloween Candy this Year
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First, allow your kids to pick a few things from their bags after they get home from trick-or-treating. (Set a limit; for example, a maximum of 10 treats.) Then put the rest of the candy out for the Great Pumpkin. While your children sleep, he will visit your home and trade the candy for a game or toy they've been wanting for.
"For older kids or teens, consider a 'Great Pumpkin Prize List' instead of a visit by the mythical gourd himself," suggests Stone. "You can list several small items your child might want and assign a value to each. For example, turning in 10 pieces of candy might earn a $5 iTunes gift card, and five pieces might be traded for an evening of TV privileges. Your children are still satisfied, and you can rest easy knowing that the candy is not going into their bellies."
Don't hold onto leftover candy.
Whether you decide to welcome the Great Pumpkin or not, it's not a good idea to let your kids hang onto their candy weeks after trick-or-treating is over. MindStream Registered Dietitian Peggy Smith says there are several strategies you can employ:
- Consider letting your children have a few pieces of candy each night until it's gone, as opposed to limiting them to one piece a day. Kids get so much candy at Halloween that if they eat one piece a night, they won't run out until they get Christmas candy, then Valentine's Day candy, then Easter candy. When treats never run out, your children will begin to think that it's okay to indulge every day, instead of only on holidays and special occasions. You might consider dividing the candy into Ziploc baggies, each containing an appropriate serving size. Allow your child one bag to eat per day.?
- It might seem wasteful, but it's better to throw leftover candy away than to let it sit around as a temptation, or to struggle with your children each night about how much they're allowed to eat.?
- Take the leftover candy that your kids don't choose to work or to other adult activities if you don't want to waste it by throwing it away.?
- Share leftover candy with the less fortunate. Your kids might donate treats to a local soup kitchen, for example, or include it in a Christmas box for a disadvantaged child. (The winter holidays might seem far away, but many charitable organizations begin collecting in November!)
"Choose the option -- or options -- that seem best for your family," says Stone. "And as your child's candy supply begins to dwindle, be sure to have healthy alternatives around, like fresh fruit. Your kids will be less inclined to remember their Halloween haul than you think."
Buy treats in a timely manner.
Unless you want to be known as a Halloween Grinch, you probably won't be able to get away with not buying any seasonal treats -- so time your shopping trip well. In other words, avoid buying candy too early or too late.
"If you bring home bags of candy bars several weeks in advance, your kids (and let's face it, you) will be tempted to eat it all before the costumes even come out," points out Stone. "And avoid buying the half-price candy that goes on sale just before and after Halloween, too. Lots of people fall into the 'it's a good bargain' trap, but remember, discounts don't make food any healthier. The bottom line with sale items is: If you don't have it, you won't eat it."
Attend an alternative bash.
Many communities offer alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, such as parties, fall festivals, or "trunk-or-treats." If there's nothing in your area, consider throwing your own bash, perhaps with the help of your friends and neighbors. You can set up Halloween-themed games, offer pumpkin-carving, bob for apples, and hold costume contests, for example. And at the end of the night, you can provide all of the attendees with treat bags.
"At a party, your kids will be having fun all evening-but they won't be collecting a new handful of candy every five minutes," says Stone. "What's not to love?"
Hand out healthy food.
If a member of your family will be staying home to hand out your own treats to roving ghouls and goblins, pick a healthy option -- or one that's non-edible. Good choices include granola bars, trail mix, raisins, pretzel snack bags, Halloween pencils, key chains, stickers, etc.
"Families are the horsepower behind successful lifestyle changes for teens, so take your kids with you when you stock up on treats to hand out," suggests Stone. "Talk to them about why certain options are healthier than others, and allow them some say on what you purchase. Plus, if your kids are on board with your family giving out less junky options, they'll be more likely to choose those things for themselves in the future."
"Remember, strive to have a Halloween that's about moderation, not deprivation," Stone concludes. "Not only will you be navigating this particular holiday in a healthy fashion, you'll be setting the stage for a more balanced life."
Here at NYMetroParents, we've got everything you need to have a safe, fun, and festive fall and Halloween season. Whether it is pumpkin or apple picking, getting lost in a corn maze, making Halloween crafts or finding costumes and decorations, we're here to help.