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

 

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Meleny October 3, 2012 at 10:26 am

Great advice; I always get caught snacking on candy at the office during Halloween season.

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Tricia October 11, 2012 at 9:59 am

My strategy is to avoid eating any treats and candy leading up to Halloween and to limit the treats and candy eaten after Halloween. This reduces the damage considerably.

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Hilla October 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I recently heard of the “Switch Witch.” For kids with allergies, the Switch Witch comes in the middle of the night and takes away the candy collected and replaces it with allergen-free candy. But I think a similar concept can be used to negotiate with a child for them to get a much longed-for present instead of the candy. Obviously, not all kids would go for this, but some might. (Or maybe they can keep 3 pieces of candy and trade the rest for the present.)

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Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN October 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Great idea! Thanks for posting!

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Robin October 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I have a teenage son, and I place no restriction on his candy eating on Halloween. Well, I’ll admit it probably wouldn’t do any good anyway. Did I say he was a teenager? This is the first year he won’t be trick-or-treating. Finally outgrew it, but there will be candy aplenty. Lucky for me he’s not a candy hound. When he did bring candy home in a bag, he showed absolutely no interest in the days following Halloween. Guess who ate most of it? Ugh… Won’t miss those days…

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Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN October 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Ha, ha! I feel your pain. If I DO stay home to hand out candy, I wait until the last minute to buy it. I am not to be trusted along with a bag of tiny Snickers bars.

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Michelle October 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Thanks – I have been thinking about this. Someone told me they let their kids “gorge” after trick-or-treating, eat whatever they want, but then whatever is left gets pitched, so it is a one night affair. Do you think one awful night would be better than rationing it out endlessly? Or to have a little for a long time?

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Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN October 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm

One “awful night” might be better than eating sugar to excess many days in a row. But I can think of all kinds of other reasons that this strategy is a bad idea.

There’s little evidence that eating a small amount of sugar every day is harmful. As long as you can help them ration their intake to a reasonable amount each day, your kids 1) won’t overeat in anticipation of deprivation 2) get to enjoy all of their candy 3) get to enjoy it over a longer period of time 4) learn to enjoy treats in moderation, 5) shouldn’t suffer any ill effects.

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Michelle October 29, 2013 at 6:57 am

Good points! Thanks for helping me decide what to do about the candy dilemena!

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