Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Halloween - Who Will Win the Candy War?

No matter how hard you try, it is almost impossible to avoid candy at Halloween! Candy at Halloween is like Easter eggs at Easter, gelt at Hanukah, and candy canes at Christmas. It is a fact of life. So this year, instead of battling with the kids over when, where, and how to eat the candy, here are some suggestions that might help sweeten this ghoulish holiday.

Limit the Container Size: Pick a small plastic pumpkin with a strong handle or a mini-sized shopping bag. Make a rule that kids have to carry their own candy. This will help limit the amount. When they start complaining that the container is too heavy, it’s time to go home.

Separate the Candy: They can make two piles: acceptable and not acceptable! Keep ones they like and throw out unwrapped or damaged candy. Tell them you or dad will take the candy they don’t like to work. That leaves only the candy they want.

You can take this sorting process a step further and look for candy that contains partially hydrogenated or Trans fats. These types of fats are artery clogging fats. So if much of their favorite pile is full of hydrogenated fats, this would be a good time to cut back on other artery clogging fats like French fries, nuggets, prepared baked sweets, and burgers.

Limit the Amount: The first few days most kids go hog wild eating candy but then it usually tapers off. In fact, by week two many kids have forgotten about the candy all together. If the candy obsession lasts more than a week or two, it can be helpful to set up guidelines to deal with the remaining supply. Limiting candy to a piece or two after dinner is a good idea. If it is not gone by Thanksgiving, throw it out!

Brush your Teeth: This is an opportunity to explain to kids how cavities form. Tell them they need to brush their teeth within a few minutes of eating candy because the sugar in the candy reacts with bacteria in their mouths to form acids which attack the teeth causing cavities. If you have not already banned sodas from the house, this might be a good time to start.

Adjust Snacks: Since you know your kids will be eating candy, if not theirs probably someone else’s, make snacks healthy. Offer sliced fresh fruit, Trans fat-free popcorn, low-fat cheese sticks, fresh veggies and hummus, or whole grain pretzel sticks. Don’t keep sweets like ice cream or other sugared snacks around at this time.

Adjust Meals: During the first week or so, make meals that are lower in carbohydrates to adjust for the extra candy intake. Avoid pasta, potatoes, rice, and breaded foods. Definitely avoid sweets and junk food. Don’t send packaged snacks to school. Eat more protein, vegetables, and healthy fats like olive oil, avocado and nuts.

While this may seem like a lot of work, it beats the alternative of turning into a witch by disallowing candy. Candy at Halloween, as long as kids are eating other healthy food, will not permanently ruin your child’s health. This balanced approach leads to happy memories and a cease fire.