Curbing Halloween Candy Consumption

Halloween CandyA quick perusal of the Internet’s take on strategies parents can use to limit the candy carnage on Halloween frequently invokes words like “horror” and a variety of tortured takes on “trick-or-treat.”

But UW Health registered dietitian Cassie Vanderwall sees Halloween as an opportunity to teach children valuable lessons about restraint and moderation.

“Halloween candy is no different than other sweets and desserts,” Vanderwall says. “Moderation can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it is a lesson worth learning.”

Vanderwall offers the following tips for parents hoping to use this Halloween as a way to encourage their children to embrace healthy eating habits:

Don’t Demonize Candy

“There is a growing body of research that encourages families to mark no food as forbidden,” Vanderwall says. “Treat-deprived children often end up weighing more later in life due to hoarding forbidden foods, whereas children who are permitted to enjoy treats regularly maintained a healthier weight.”

Devise a Candy Distribution Strategy

For parents who know that entrusting candy consumption to their child’s whims will likely result in a November 1 stomach ache, Vanderwall suggests sorting candy into three categories: love, like and can do without.

“Most people find it beneficial to throw out the candy that they can live without and enjoy the rest as part of a meal,” she says.

Determine the Amount of Sugar Your Child Can Handle

Compare candy labels to American Heart Association recommendations for sugar:

  • Men: 36 grams per day (9 teaspoons)
  • Women: 25 grams per day (6 teaspoons)
  • Pre-teen and Teenagers: 20-32 grams per day (5-8 teaspoons)
  • Children (4-8 years): 12 grams per day (3 teaspoons)
  • Preschoolers (2-3 years): 16 grams per day (4 teaspoons)

Offer Healthier Alternatives

Halloween is a visual day, and parents can use that to their advantages when planning their celebrations. Incorporate non-food alternatives like stickers, glow sticks and Play-Doh into family Halloweens, and use pencils, pens, Crayons, markers and drawing paper to inspire children to indulge their Halloween imaginations in ways that do not involve calories.

Not all delicious Halloween fare need be unhealthy, try with these recipes for healthy Halloween treats.