When I think of Halloween, I am grateful for a childhood filled with memories of crisp autumn air and fallen leaves, glowing jack-o-lanterns, and running from house to house in my costume. As I squealed and giggled at the decorated houses, my hands tightly clutched a pillowcase jam-packed with candy.
At the end of the night, I’d dump my loot on my bedroom floor and carefully sort it into piles ranging from my most favourite to least (with plans to trade the latter with my unsuspecting little brother). We were allowed a few candies that evening, and then my mom put away the rest so we could enjoy a treat for dessert throughout the week.
While indulging our sweet-tooth is perfectly fine once in a while, there are a variety of tactics that parents can use to help children moderate their sugar intake this Halloween (and prevent nasty stomach aches, emergency dental appointments, and sugar-high meltdowns). Dentists recommend avoiding hard, caramel, or gummy candies that can damage enamel and stick to teeth. Lollipops and other candies that prolong the frequency of exposure, and highly acidic candies, should also be avoided.
Studies also show that the more strictly parents attempt to control certain foods, such as sweets, the more desirable they become. Rather, a realistic, consistent, and positive approach is the most effective and fun.
Here are five great strategies to ward off the sugar overload
When the kids go to bed, the ‘Switch Witch’ exchanges their candy for a new toy. This is a fun opportunity for your kids to willingly trade their candy for something else they’d enjoy.
Candy buy-back programs
You can freeze most candy and use it later for baking, goodie bags, to fill a piñata at your child’s next birthday party, or decorate a gingerbread house at Christmas.
Make a difference
Trick or Eat is a Canadian youth-led event that invites students to participate in the largest door-to-door Halloween food drive and raise much needed funds to find solutions to food insecurity in Canada. This year, instead of collecting candy, you and your child could help the hundreds of thousands of families and children who depend on food banks.