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USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine

 
   

   


Tips can prevent children from 'goblin' excess treats

trick or treat kids

HOUSTON--Monstrous amounts of trick-or-treat candy doesn't have to be a Halloween nightmare for parents. 

With a few tricks of their own, parents can provide a balance between sugary treats and fright-night festivities. "Children caught up in the thrills of other Halloween activities are less likely to be obsessed with bags of candy," says Dr. Debby Demory-Luce, a nutritionist with the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

She offers these suggestions:

  • Conjure up activities that focus on Halloween fun, not sweet treats. Carve Jack-O-Lanterns, create a creepy "grave yard" on the lawn, host a Monster make-up party, or organize a neighborhood scavenger hunt. "Few adults remember how much Halloween candy they received as a child, but almost everyone remembers whether they had fun," Demory-Luce says.
     
  • Scare up healthy treats for little goblins who knock at the door. "What you hand out sends a strong message to your children," Demory-Luce says. She recommends small bags of pretzels and mini-boxes of raisins, or non-food treats such as stickers, pencils, and coins.
     
  • Limit the length of trick-or-treat outings to decrease the amount of candy children bring home. This is a lot easier to do when children know that other activities are planned.
     
  • Encourage children to sort through their bags and decide how many and which pieces of Halloween candy to keep.  "Learning to make good food choices is instrumental for children to develop self-control and healthy eating habits," Demory-Luce says. This also gives parents the opportunity to screen treats and discard any with loose or suspicious wrappings.
     
  • Allow children one or two treats Halloween night, then store the remainder out of sight. "It's fine to give one or two treats a day in lunches or after school," says Demory-Luce. "But avoid using candy to reward good behavior because it can increase a child's preference for sweet foods."
     
  • Consider donating any excess treats to senior citizens' homes or organizations serving the needy.

"Good planning can help keep children from goblin' up too many Halloween treats while still letting the ghoul times roll," she says.

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