Managing Halloween Candy: Dos and Don’ts

pile of halloween candy including sour patch kids, swedish fish, and m&ms

I took my daughter trick-or-treating for the first time when she was only 15 months old. She is now 16, and we still haven’t missed a Halloween yet. We all know candy undermines our teeth, waistlines and health goals, but the ritual of selecting, creating and parading around in a Halloween costume, always outweighs the voice of moderation.

Fortunately, over the past 15 Halloweens, I have developed a few candy management strategies that usually keep my kids, and myself, from doing too much damage with a candy binge.

DO: Buy boring

It won’t make you the most popular parent on the block, but consider buying relatively healthy snacks to pass out, like bags of Goldfish crackers or pretzels. Some houses we stop at hand out quarters or 50-cent pieces to the kids. I suspect these people are actually dentists.

Don’t make the mistake of buying boatloads of your absolutely favorite candy–you will be left holding the bag and you will eat every molecule that you don’t give away.

DON’T: Binge on Halloween

Few of us have the strength to completely abstain from all Halloween candy on the “big night.” As you sort through the candy, set a limit for how many pieces you or your kids can consume that evening, and stick to it. Set aside the rest of the candy and determine how many pieces each person can enjoy per day afterward. We usually have a one-piece per day rule at my house, to be violated only by Mom, and we all lose interest after about a week.

DO: Know the nutrition

Not all candy is created equal. Unfortunately, most of the chocolate-bar variety of candy is loaded with fat and sugar, making even small bites giant calorie bombs. Just because the M&Ms have peanuts or the Mounds have almonds does not make them good for you. Sugar-based candies like Jolly Ranchers and lollipops may pack fewer calories, but they still pose a risk to your dental health.

Best Choices:

    • Goldfish mini-pouch, 50 calories
    • Candy Corn (11 pieces), 70 calories
    • Tootsie Roll (3 pieces), 70 calories
    • 3 Fun Size Musketeers, 63 calories

Worst Choices:

    • 3 Fun Size Twix, 150 Calories
    • Butterfinger Fun Size, 100 Calories
    • Airheads Fun Size (3 pieces), 140 Calories
    • Reese’s Pumpkin, 170 calories

DON’T: Leave candy in sight

I do not allow the kids to keep candy in their rooms, because I am afraid not only of gorging and tooth decay, but of ants and mice. I have everyone put their hoard into large Ziploc bags, which they label and stow in the refrigerator. I usually put the candy behind something they never touch, like the bagged onions or brussels sprouts. My husband and I put our grownup candy stash on top of the fridge. In either case, the cache is out of sight and out of mind, and we usually forget it’s even there until we end up throwing it away a few months later.

What is your favorite halloween treat?

photo credit: Kevin Krejci

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