Managing Halloween Candy
It’s almost time for Halloween, and with that comes a lot of candy. Like me, you probably have fond memories of figuring out what costume to wear, buying or making it, and going out trick or treating. For parents, Halloween can be a source of stress and anxiety in dealing with the huge amounts of candy and other treats that kids collect. For me, it was extra special because I grew up in a dental family, so we hardly ever had candy! In this blog post, I hope you will find some ideas that resonate with you and your family to help lessen the stress and simultaneously offer fun for the kids.
I firmly believe that if we do not allow our kids to have sweets now and then, they are more likely to sneak them and go wild, eating as many treats as possible when they get a chance. This binging does not teach them how to eat sweets responsibly or in a healthy manner. If we teach them how to manage sweets when they are young, it will benefit them throughout their lives. Although this is my opinion, and it worked with my kids, you will need to decide for yourself how you want to do it in your family.
To start, I think it is essential that we don’t see sweets as bad, but that they are a special treat eaten at certain times, but not daily or in excess. There is a lot of information and research showing that sugar is not good for our overall health and teeth, but sugary foods and candies are everywhere. Our kids will be faced with making decisions about eating them at school, friends’ and families’ houses, parties, and when they can buy them as they get older.
Here are some ideas you can try to help encourage healthy management of eating sweets
- If you are serving a dessert with a meal, give it to them with the meal, rather than after- to prevent bribing them to eat more of their dinner.
- When served with dinner, the child can choose what to eat first, taking away any drama and negative feelings toward the healthy foods. It makes it so dessert is not this amazing thing and normalizes it.
- You can do this with Halloween candy as well, that is, have it as the dessert and eat it with the meal at their discretion.
- Have a specific time when they have their treat, preferably not in between meals but with a meal when the saliva is flowing.
Remember that each time we eat anything, the mouth makes more acid and that acid helps create cavities. So, the less snacking, the better for the teeth. By setting up a specific time, they learn not to binge on candy and eat it mindlessly. You can talk about how it is a special treat and doesn’t help them grow and stay healthy, so you only have a little at certain times.
We know that candies that stay in the mouth longer, like lollipops and anything that you suck on, will increase the risk of cavities more than things you can eat quickly, so this is something you can explain as well when helping them to make healthy choices. Here’s a rundown of common candies and their impact on your teeth.
For our family, we let our kids eat candy the night of Halloween, and then together with their input, we decided on how many pieces of candy they would keep. That night at bedtime, they put the rest of their candy at the end of their bed, and the Halloween Fairy came and took the candy and left a gift. They loved this!
Here are some other ideas you might like to try to limit how much candy your kids have:
- Check with your dentist. Many dental offices offer a Halloween Candy buy back program.
- Many food banks will accept candy. It can be fun to have a treat now and then for those unable to afford it.
- Hide it and save it for the next year, so you don’t have to buy so much candy.
- Save some for birthday piñatas, Christmas stockings, or other holidays and events involving candy.
- Freeze it, but keep it out of eyesight.
- Take it to your work and share it there.
- Buy it from your kids or trade something like a gift certificate for no chores or a trip to the movies.
- Operation Gratitude Halloween Candy Give-Back only takes candy at Halloween time. Here is the email address to ask how to do that: firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can donate it to the troops: Operation Shoebox accepts candy all year, and they put a bag of candy inside every care package. To contribute your leftover candy, mail it to: Operation Shoebox, 8360 East Highway 25, Belleview, FL 34420
- Treats for Troops is another program that sends the candy to the troops. Here is their information: Treats for Troops Halloween Candy Collection – Soldiers’ Angels (soldiersangels.org)
However you celebrate, remember to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and visit the dentist regularly.