Halloween can be a scary time for more reasons than the goblins and spooky ghosts. Halloween seems to kick-off the season of treats. Many parents dread Halloween due to the amount of candy that their child drags home after a long night of trick-or-treating. This can be unwelcome, especially if any member of the family is attempting to manage their weight. Let’s take a moment and spin this into a learning opportunity.
Trick-or-treating is a great time to teach kids about moderation. Remember, Halloween candy is no different than other sweets and desserts. There is a growing body of research that encourages families to mark no food as forbidden. Ellyn Satter encourages parents to help their children to, “Learn to manage sweets and to keep sweets in proportion to the other food [they] eat.” Moderation can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it is a lesson worth learning. According to research, treat-deprived children often end up weighing more later in life due to hoarding forbidden foods, where as children who are permitted to enjoy treats regularly maintained a healthier weight. Additionally, authoritative food policies often encourage sneaking and hiding behaviors.
Brave parents may allow their children to manage their own stash of Halloween candy and possibly learn the hard way after a few bellyaches. Other families may wish to combine the booty and sort through it together; allowing each member to identify the candies that they “love,” “like,” and can “do without.” Most people find it beneficial to throw out the candy that they can live without and enjoy the rest 1 piece at a time as part of a meal.
It is helpful to refer to published guidelines regarding added sugar to identify a healthy way to enjoy candy. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends a certain number of grams of sugar per day based on their age and gender. For reference, there are 4 grams of sugar in every teaspoon of sugar
- Men: 36 grams per day (9 teaspoons)
- Women: 25 grams per day (6 teaspoons)
- Pre-teen and Teenagers: 20-32 grams per day (5-8 teaspoons)
- Children (4-8 years): (3 teaspoons)
- Preschoolers (2-3 years): 16 grams per day (4 teaspoons)
In order to do your part and limit the extra sugar that enters your home, choose to hand-out the following candy alternatives:
- Glow sticks
- Play dough
- Sugar-free Gum
- Granola Bars
- Trail mix
So, with moderation in mind, may the force be with you as we forge into the season of sweets!
October Recipe: Hit the Trail Mix
A healthful alternative to candy and chocolate is trail mix loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- 1 Cup unsalted Nuts (Peanuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios)
- 1 Cup dried Fruit (Raisins, Cranberries, Cherries, Berries)
- 1 Cup unsalted Seeds (Pumpkin/Pepitas, Squash, Sunflower)
- ½ Cup Chocolate candies (Carob chips, M&M’s, Chocolate chips)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to distribute mixture into separate air-tight containers or bags.