Thoughts on Halloween Candy

Happy Halloween!

Autumn is the favorite season for many of us, and for good reason. With fall comes the beautiful foliage, apple orchards, the return of everything pumpkin, plus one of our favorite holidays—Halloween! Kids especially love Halloween for the costumes, parties and of course, the candy. And while adults enjoy seeing their precious little ones transformed into ghouls, goblins and little princes and princesses, many also struggle with how to handle the huge candy haul at the end of the night.

Some parents choose to let their kids keep all their candy, some put strict limits on their kids’ intake, and most parents are somewhere in-between. As a parent myself, I know how tough these choices can be. On one hand, Halloween comes just once a year. On the other hand, Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season, with each of the upcoming holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter— revolving around treats and candy. There is always a reason to celebrate!

There is no right way to handle the Halloween candy dilemma. However, as parents and caregivers it’s important to be informed about what our children are eating. The occasional “fun” sized candy bar is pretty harmless, but bingeing on these treats, even a few times a year, can set kids up for bad behaviors that can be difficult to break. Below is a list of the most popular Halloween candy, along with some basic nutrition information. You can see how the sugar grams can really add up when just a few of these treats are consumed. Research tells us that sugar is addicting, especially for kids, so once they start craving sugar, it can be hard to stop. Too much sugar for kids leads to short term problems with attention span, memory and sleep, as well as long-term consequences such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In addition to the sugar, most of these candies contain high amounts of harmful fat and artificial ingredients, which can contribute to behavioral problems and those long-term chronic diseases that are so prevalent today.

Candy (fun sized)

Sugar grams

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup

10.5

M&M’s

9

Snickers

8.5

Kit Kat

8.6

Skittles

11

Butterfinger

11

 

So what is the solution? Here are just a few ideas that you might want to consider implementing this Halloween.

  1. Put limits on Halloween candy intake. It’s up to you to decide exactly how much of the Halloween candy to let your kids eat right away, and how much to save for later or throw away. Some parents let their kids eat five pieces on Halloween night, and then one piece a week for several months afterwards.
  2. Offer a trade—Halloween candy for one adventure—kid’s choice. Give your kids the option of turning in their candy for one of their favorite activities. Maybe it’s a trip to the movies or a day at the zoo. Let them decide.
  3. Discover candy alternatives. While you may not want to be known as the Scrooge on the block who doesn’t hand out candy, the truth is that there are many candy alternatives that kids will love. Stickers, notebooks, spooky jewelry and other party favors are just a few options.

However you decide to celebrate this Halloween—with candy or without—have fun and be safe. And remember that holidays like Halloween should be about spending time together and making memories. Happy Halloween everyone!

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