October — a time for falling leaves, cooler temperatures and pumpkin-flavored everything. For kids, October means Halloween and the thrill of dressing up and trick-or-treating. For parents, it’s a time to sort out the dilemma: What to do with all the candy?
As a registered dietitian, I like to remind families, and my own kids, that moderation is the key. There’s room in your child’s diet for sweet treats, but the most important thing is that kids maintain overall good nutrition.
Here are some suggestions for enjoying Halloween without going over the top:
Prepare kids before trick-or-treat
- Make sure kids have a healthy snack or dinner that includes protein before heading out. This will help prevent overdoing it and having a sugar rush (and crash).
- Keep kids active by walking from house to house, if possible, instead of driving.
- Set a time limit. After a certain time, have kids come home to help hand out candy.
- Determine the number of pieces each child will get to eat after trick-or-treating has ended.
- Have each child pick a predetermined number of his/her favorites and then collect the rest.
Using extra candy
Of course, moms and dads will want to sample a few of their favorite treats, too! But what to do with the seemingly endless supply that remains? Try these ideas:
- Add candy to cookies or muffins or stir into icing.
- Add a few pieces to a milkshakes or smoothie, or top ice cream or yogurt sundaes with it.
- Mix candy with pretzels, nuts and dried fruit for a healthy trail mix.
- With young kids, use candy for counting or sorting activities.
- Turn the candy into science or engineering experiments. Have kids predict if candy will sink or float. Make towers with toothpicks and soft candy.
- Get crafty and use on a gingerbread house or to make a candy necklace.
Share the love
You’ve used all your creativity, and there are still gobs of candy left. What now? Time to share:
- Send overseas for the troops (search online for local organizations that collect candy).
- Some dentist’s offices offer candy “buyback” and will then send to troops or charitable organizations.
- Bring candy to work.
It’s okay to throw away extra candy too. This helps demonstrate making healthy choices to kids, and shows them that even sweet treats are fine when enjoyed in moderation.
Clinical dietitians at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin are specially trained to provide the best nutritional care for children.
Learn more about Courtney Cherveny, RD.