Halloween Survival Guide

by Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN on October 2, 2012

Halloween is coming and that usually means a big increase in how much sugar our kids are eating. And I don’t know about your house, but the kids aren’t the only ones that get into the Halloween candy around here!

Obviously, the ideal amount of candy for kids (and kids-at-heart) is NO candy.  But this is not the time to play the hard cop. Here are some tips and strategies for allowing everyone to enjoy the holiday while containing the damage.

  • Don’t let your kids start eating the candy they collect while they are still out trick or treating. If they’re eager to get home to have a piece of candy, they might be willing to stop with a slightly smaller payload.
  • Set (and enforce) limits on how much candy may be eaten each day and when (e.g., only after meals).
  • Halloween candy should be enjoyed instead of and not in addition to other sweets that the kids might otherwise have. Limit other sources of sugar such as sodas and sweetened drinks, sugary breakfast cereals, cookies, and desserts, while the Halloween candy is around.
  • The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugars to 10% of total calories. For a 90-pound 11-year-old, that’s about 50 grams of sugar per day. For a 40-pound six-year-old, it’s closer to 25 grams of sugar.

To see the amount of sugar and calories in those little “fun-size” Halloween candies, be sure to save the package they come in–they aren’t individually labeled.  You can also look them up online.   Candies that are lowest in calories are not necessarily the lowest in sugar. Candies with peanuts or other nuts, for example, are higher in calories but lower in sugar, because more of the calories come from protein and fat.

By the way, although they are low in sugar and calories, I don’t recommend giving sugar-free (“diabetic”) candy to kids…the sugar alcohols can cause diarrhea, especially if they eat too much.

Candies that are lower in sugar (less than 20 g per “fun size” serving):

  • Hershey’s Reeses Sticks
  • Nutrageous
  • Chocolate covered peanuts
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Almond Bites
  • Mr. Goodbar
  • Reeses Pieces
  • Kit Kat

Candies that are lower in calories (fewer than 100 calories per “fun size” serving):

  • Bubble gum
  • Twizzler’s Bites
  • Jelly Beans
  • Bit-o-Honey
  • York Peppermint Patty
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Raisinets
  • Gumdrops
  • Skittles
  • Starburst