How to Wrangle Your Halloween Candy

Halloween is one of the sweetest holidays there is. Candy is as fundamental to Halloween as turkey is to Thanksgiving. Trick-or-treating is more about the treats than the tricks, and children eagerly look forward to getting home after they’ve successfully visited every house in the neighborhood, dumping out their haul, and tallying up their score. They take delight in counting the brightly colored candies and, of course, gobbling it up. While candy is a big part of Halloween for most families, the sheer amount of sugar is troubling for many parents. So how do you manage how much candy your child eats on Halloween?

The trouble with eating too much candy

The average American consumes nearly three and a half pounds of Halloween candy each year. Consuming large amounts of refined sugar has been shown to contribute to increasing obesity rates and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Childhood obesity is a growing health problem in the U.S. and the rest of the world as well. A study from the World Health Organization found that obesity rates for children between the ages of 5 and 19 have increased tenfold in the past 40 years. The study also states that if the trend continues there will be more obese children and adolescents than moderately or severely underweight children and adolescents by 2022.

Children with obesity are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, bone and joint problems, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems.

How do you manage Halloween candy?

A little indulgence in sweets every once in while is OK. A one-night candy binge once a year won’t necessarily cause long term health problems. However, its important to teach children healthy habits and moderation. You don’t want to establish bad eating habits or foster a sweet tooth.

So, how do you manage your child’s Halloween candy? Here are a few ideas to help you establish a game plan.

  • Focus less on the candy and emphasize other parts of the holiday such as costumes, games, spooky movies, decorations, and activities.
  • Limit the amount of candy that comes into the house. Set a limit on the number of houses children can visit, or draw a line on the bag that indicates when it’s time to stop trick-or-treating.
  • Designate certain times when children can eat Halloween candy. Pack a couple of pieces with their lunch, or have some as a desert or at snack time.
  • Let children trade Halloween candy for toys or other rewards.
  • Teach children to share candy with friends and family, or donate leftover candy to shelters, hospitals, or schools.
  • Keep candy in the cupboard rather than in the bedroom or in a big bowl in the middle of the living room. Storing candy out of sight might help the family forget about it.
  • Explain the importance of nutrition and teach healthy eating habits.

However you choose to manage your child’s Halloween candy, discuss plans with your children before Halloween night. This will help make sure that they’re prepared, and prevent any unhappy surprises.