There is no question that as soon as September ends, we are all thinking about Halloween. Even before summer is actually over, stores are stocking their shelves with giant bags of Halloween candy and treats. The candy is everywhere and as a dietitian, I’m often asked how people should handle it.
Did you know that more chocolate candy is sold during Halloween week than the weeks leading up to Easter or Valentine's Day? (1). That’s around 90 million pounds of chocolate candy sold! The way I want my clients look at Halloween is the way I want them to look at any holiday or occasion: it’s one day. Anyone can handle one day.
Americans are not consuming 90 million pounds of candy only on October 31st. They consume the candy before, during and long after Halloween, and that is where the problem is. The same goes for Thanksgiving, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day or even a birthday. One day of a little indulgence doesn’t ruin your health goals; it’s the never-ending indulging that does. So I’ve come up with a few tips to make this spooky day the happiest and healthiest Halloween yet for you and your kids!
- Stick to chocolate. While high-quality dark chocolate is ideal, even milk chocolate will be a better option than candy with food coloring and processed sugar.
- Don’t go hungry. There may not be time for a proper dinner with the kids so excited, but hungry kids and parents on Halloween can be very scary. Have a snack, like a smoothie, to fill you up and provide energy for all that trick or treating. I love the portion sizes of Smoothie King’s Kids Cups as a perfect pre-Halloween snack for all the little ones.
- Pick a number. Discuss how many pieces of candy your kids can have that night before you leave for trick or treating. Let them be involved in the decision so they feel some ownership of the commitment and learn more about self-control. In my household, we decide around 8 pieces depending on my kids’ negotiating skills. And this rule can apply to you too!
- Give it away. Starting the day after Halloween, put aside some of your kids’ favorite pieces to let them have for a few days and then donate the rest! For example, a great charity called Operation Gratitude(2) sends your treats to the troops overseas. No leftovers and doing a good deed? Perfection!
- Have fun together! Halloween is about so much more than the candy. Involve your family in other seasonal activities and crafts to bring out the Halloween spirit in more ways than just trick or treating.
If you’re able to follow these steps, you are setting yourself and your family up for a balanced, fun and successful Halloween. What’s your favorite way to help your family moderate Halloween indulgences? Fill me in on yours!