5 Tips For Curbing Candy Overload

While ghosts and goblins abound to frighten this time of year, what’s really scary is the amount of sugar our children consume. Consider this: the average trick-or-treat haul contains three cups of sugar and 4,800 calories.

Cathy Clark-Reyes, a registered dietitian with Baptist Health Primary Care, offers these tips to help curb your child’s sweet tooth this time of year:

1. Fuel up. Feed the kids a healthy meal before heading out to trick-or-treat. “If the kids get hungry, they’ll start picking through their candy for quick satisfaction,” Ms. Clark-Reyes said. Follow a balanced meal pattern – as indicated by the MyPlate guidelines – to include whole grains, protein and plenty of vegetables. If you’re short on time, provide a healthy snack, such as peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread, vegetables and hummus, or a low-fat cheese stick and fruit.

2. Be selective. Have children sort out their candy and pick out only their favorite types. Then get rid of the candy they don’t like. Set specific limits for how many pieces of candy they can eat for the next couple of days following Halloween (three to four mini-sized pieces is usually OK). The goal is to wean them off the candy before the end of the week. “Forbidding all candy and sweets only makes children want them more.” Ms. Clark-Reyes said. Consider offering a book or a toy in exchange for a pile of candy. Never use candy as a reward for good behavior.

3. Share with others. Consider donating unwanted or unused candy for a cause. Organizations that support the military, sick children, soup kitchens and homeless shelters welcome your donations and will put them to good use. In addition, you can usually find a local dentist or orthodontist office that will pay money or give healthy treats in exchange for candy.

4. Offer healthy options. Consider giving away non-candy goodies like small toys and treats. Stickers, temporary tattoos, spider rings and glow sticks are popular items that can be found at local discount or party stores. If you’re hosting a party, avoid making sweets the center of attention. Instead, have fun with fruit and vegetables. Ideas include banana ghosts, watermelon brains and Frankenstein smoothies. There are many pictures and instructions available on the Internet.

5. Tame temptation. Wait until the day of Halloween to buy your candy, Ms. Clark-Reyes advises. Buy just enough for what you think you’ll need to avoid having leftovers, and select your least favorite kind. This way it won’t be in front of you for days or weeks, tempting you to eat a few pieces here and there and undermine a healthy eating plan.

“By using some common sense and portion control, it’s possible to curb candy overload and still enjoy the festivities of Halloween,” Ms. Clark-Reyes said.

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