Editor’s note: This story was originally published on momaha’s sister site, LiveWellNebraska.com
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Let kids enjoy their Halloween treats, but take steps to prevent snacking from getting out of control.
It’s that time of year when sweet-toothed goblins invade your front porch.
Having children tempted by that much candy in a concentrated period can be worrisome as parents decide how to deal with it.
For parents concerned about the effects of excessive sweets — weight gain, sugar-fueled appetites and dental cares — nutrition experts have a word of advice.
“My philosophy is to let children be children and enjoy this special day the way most of us did,” said Christine M. Palumbo, a registered dietitian in Naperville, Ill.
One day in which children have an overflow of candy won’t do them long-term harm, say the experts.
But even with the inevitable excess, parents can moderate the sugar effects and rein in the overflow with some simple planning.
Brainstorm with children before the holiday, said Sarah Krieger, a registered dietitian in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Decide together that you’ll donate a portion to a local food bank or nursing home, if appropriate.
“Talk about it beforehand so your children aren’t surprised,” Krieger said.
Give children a healthy snack or dinner before they head out.
“If you head out before eating, while you’re hungry, of course you’ll eat more,” Krieger said. “My rule is you’ll have to eat something before you head out.”
As children sort through their candy loot, have them separate out the items they don’t especially like for a donation elsewhere.
Make thorough toothbrushing part of the evening ritual even though the little zombies might be exhausted.
A post-Halloween strategy depends on the children’s ages, too. Do parents hide candy and budget it for their children or leave it out and rely on the kids’ self-control?
Krieger said that while an older child might notice it being gone, “with younger children, it’s out of sight, out of mind.”
When it’s candy time, encourage children to mix the sweets with healthier foods, Krieger said.
“If you eat candy on an empty stomach, you’ll crave it more. Have candy with a glass of milk,” she said.
Parents might notice that after a week or two the snack bowl isn’t being touched.
“By Thanksgiving we threw the leftovers away,” said Palumbo, recalling her family’s Halloween practices.
There are healthier options for candy givers, too. Unless you’re inviting tricksters, you won’t be giving out nonfat milk cartons.
Palumbo suggests the following items that ghouls and their parents will appreciate:
» Chocolate-covered raisins
» Roasted sunflower seeds in single-serve packets
» Small granola bars
» Small bags of pretzels
» Envelopes of hot chocolate mix
» Mini bags of microwave popcorn for popping at home
Remember, children aren’t the only ones with designs on the candy bag. Most parents have probably scoped it out, too.
That can be a good thing.
Having a plan and being mindful of what is being eaten is better than snacking on sweets because they’re available, Krieger said.
The same goes for the candy jar at work, which will be brimming on Nov. 1.
If, however, certain candies are triggers and you can’t stop with one piece, don’t start, Palumbo said.
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Do you have a weakness for chocolate or a sweet candy you can’t resist? Tell us about it.
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