Halloween is the beginning of the eating season in the US. A month after is Thanksgiving followed by Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s. I always felt this way when my kids were little. By the time the candy was gone, pies were on their radar.
It wasn’t until I had kids that I realized what a nightmare Halloween must have been for my dad, who was a dentist. I cringed at the pounds of candy that came home, and I could only think of my dad doing the same when I was little. As I got older, I knew my parents had thrown out most of my haul.
We have more awareness and healthier choices now. Here are a few ideas to keep the sugar consumption down.
Reducing the sugar that comes into the house
First of all, have some guidelines before the kids go out. Let them know what they can eat that day and what and how much they can eat in the days following Halloween. One small piece per meal is enough. After a few days, they get bored with it anyway!
Make sure your kids have eaten dinner or a healthy, filling snack before going out to trick or treat. They will munch less when they are out.
When they get back, let them eat what they want that night. It’s only once a year! Indulge them! After that, sort out what they like and what they don’t like. Give away the ‘don’t like’ pile. Of the ‘like’ pile that they will keep, go back to your guidelines about eating it. The following day put the candy where the kids can’t see it, and dole it out yourself.
Some communities have a Halloween candy buy-back program. Dentists arrange these, and they buy the candy for a specified price, then send the candy to military troops overseas. This is part of Operation Gratitude. Not only is it healthier for little teeth, it teaches children about giving.
Check with your dentist to see if s/he is enrolled in a buy-back program. If not, suggest it and help set it up.
You can also buy your child’s candy back from him/her. Kids love money! Alternatively you could replace the candy with a toy they have been bugging you about. Of course, let them eat some of it, but find something creative to do with the rest of it.
It’s been said that kids are more interested in getting candy than eating it. I imagine that’s true. There is a lot of exciting build-up to October 31st! Kids spend a month thinking of, creating and/or buying costumes, there are parties at school, and there are parties in lieu of trick or treating, as well as the actual night of Halloween. So much to look forward to!
In Taos, the kids walk around the plaza after school in their costumes and collect candy from the merchants. It’s a huge costume party and a place to be seen! After that, kids go trick or treating, but the event on the plaza is what everyone looks forward to.
When I grew up, Halloween lasted a week. We had Chalk Night, when we would write on people’s driveways and in the road with chalk. We had Doorbell Night, when we would ring people’s doorbells and run away (that was my favorite!). We actually did that for most of the month of October! There was Telephone Night, when we would make prank calls to random numbers. I can’t remember them all, but we went out and harmlessly terrorized the neighborhood for days! So Halloween lasted a really long time to us kids. We looked forward to these things almost as much as getting candy!
Candy is the small part of the holiday
Kids enjoy the anticipation of all the Halloween happenings, and they like to compete with their friends over who got the best candy and who got the most. Once the competition and fun is over, the candy becomes a small part of the holiday. It is easy to play it down, and like I said earlier, they get tired of it after a few days.
Focus on the events, not the candy. Get creative to stay healthy!