With the chance to dress up in costume and stock up on sweets, Halloween is the highlight of the year for many kids — from toddlers to teens. But for parents, Halloween can be tricky. Even if you don’t celebrate Halloween, the extra candy — and temptation — is all around. Do you set limits? Do you let kids decide how much to eat?
There isn’t just one right answer. Instead, use your best judgment given what you know about your child’s personality and eating habits.
Before kids go trick-or-treating, try to serve a healthy meal so they’re not hungry when they’re collecting candy.
Here are some more tips for handling the Halloween treats:
- Out of sight, out of mind: Try keeping their favorite fruits and veggies in sight and put the candy somewhere they have to dig for it.
- Give in, just a little: Let your kids choose three or four pieces of their favorite candy to eat when they get home from trick or treating. You can then decide how much of the rest to keep and how many pieces your child can eat a day.
- Trade it back: Consider trading back some or all of the remaining Halloween candy for something else your child will enjoy, like a game or trip to the park. This acknowledges the candy belongs to the child and still provides a treat.
- Be a role model: Show your child you eat Halloween candy in moderation, too. To help avoid temptation, buy your candy at the last minute and get rid of any leftovers.
You also can offer some alternatives to candy to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door. Party supply stores can be a great source for nonfood treats like stickers, toys, temporary tattoos, bottles of bubbles and games. Some healthier snack alternatives include small bags of pretzels, sugar-free gum, trail mix, small boxes of raisins and popcorn and small bottles of water.
Steer clear of any snacks or toys — like small plastic objects — that could pose choking hazards to very young children.
And remember that Halloween, like other holidays, is a single day on the calendar. If your family eats sensibly during the rest of the year, a few days of sweet treats won’t undo all the good you do the rest of the year. Learn more about healthy food options here.