It’s no surprise that kids love Halloween. They love dressing up in their favorite costumes, and they love eating candy! But, as a parent, you know that too much sugar and sweets are not very good for your child’s health long term.
Here are 5 tips to help you manage your kid’s sugar intake this Halloween from children’s pediatric medicine expert Dr. Bonnie Feola, an award-winning pediatrician of more than 30 years, professionally trained chef, and children’s health expert.
Make sure to have an abundance of nutritious foods around the kitchen and make them easily available. Kids need a variety of regular foods at scheduled meal times. Make sure to have nutritious foods readily available to help create a balance with your kids when they want to indulge in their Halloween treats.
2. Allow Choices
Candy has a lot of sugar in it. But, telling your child that sugar is “bad” can backfire and actually make candy even more desirable. Instead, try letting your child know that after Halloween night, they can choose 1 or 2 treats to have daily and save the rest for another day. It may help to give them an old empty lunchbox (or shoebox) to keep their remaining candy in a kitchen cupboard or somewhere tucked away where they don’t have unlimited, open access to their treats. Also, let your child choose if he or she wants to save a treat for later. They may want to safekeep candy for an afterschool activity or even a winter sports event. Let them decide what candy they want and when they want it. Allowing them to be in control of their 1-2 pieces of candy daily helps them learn to set their own limits.
3. Talk Taste
Children’s taste buds have a preference for sweet and salty foods. Now is a great time to engage with your child and learn together. While your kid may be happily eating their Halloween treats, ask them what they are tasting? What do they prefer? Is the candy sweet? Cherry, lemon, apple flavored? What are the differences in taste? Maybe your child prefers sourness and tartness from sour candy. Does your child like crunchy, gooey, coconut or fruit-flavored? Use this moment as an opportunity to learn about your kid’s likes and dislikes. This information can help you introduce similar flavored but more nutritious foods to your child another day.
4. Cut Back on Sugary Drinks
Making water the most important beverage during this holiday will help limit your child’s extra sugar intake. Pure water helps regulate your child’s body fluid and will help process the empty candy calories they are consuming. Water helps regulate body temperature, prevent constipation, urinary infections and kidney stones. Children up to 8 years of age should drink the number of 8oz cups of water equal to their age; up to a maximum of 64 oz (8- 8oz cups).
5. Consider Donating Unwanted or Excess Candy
Start with asking your child to throw out or donate any candy they don’t like. Several national organizations and even local ones accept candy donations. One such organization is the Soldiers’ Angels Treats for Troops program, which sends Halloween candy directly to service men and women around the world. Talk to your child about how they can be a force for good by donating excess candy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Bonnie Feola is passionate about helping children overcome the barriers to healthy eating. She teaches parents how to get their children to eat more nutritious food to support lifelong health and disease prevention. She is the founder of Nibbles & Sprouts, a company that offers personalized plans for parents that provide effective strategies to help their children maintain a healthier diet. Her inspiration for Nibbles & Sprouts was born out of her pediatric practice when she was often frustrated by the limited amount of time she was allowed to spend with parents and children on how nutrition could help improve their children’s health. In addition to providing customized strategies to parents, Dr. Feola offers a gold mine of other resources for parents on her Nibbles & Sprouts website, including healthy, kid-approved recipes and more.