Well, fear not. One day of “over-doing-it” is not going to cause anyone long term harm. As parents, we want to make sure we preserve the joy of Halloween while ensuring our children do not turn into sugar-zombies for weeks afterwards.
Let’s be honest, it’s not just the kids that we have to worry about. Suddenly we have an abundance of bite size morsels of chocolatey treats hidden in our cupboards with no one taking stock of how many have disappeared by the end of each day. So the first tip is geared to the grown-ups.
Slick Trick #1: Don’t Stock Temptation
If you haven’t bought your Halloween stash yet, well done! Don’t buy anything until the 30th or even better the 31st. It is hard to resist temptation so make it easy on yourself and keep it out of the house as long as possible. On November 1st, follow-through with a plan to get rid of any leftovers.
Buy items that do not tempt you. If you are a chocoholic, then buy liquorice. If you love all things sugar, then buy chips. If you can’t resist any junk food, then buy non-edible toys. Bubbles, glow bracelets, stickers, costume jewellery, play-doh are a great alternative to the usual Halloween fare. Kids love little trinkets and toys and your conscience is clear that you have not contributed to the 7000 calories in the neighbourhood children’s loot bags!
Slick Trick #2: Pre-load with a Healthy Dinner Before Trick-or-Treating
With younger children, trick-or-treating can start early in evening. However, don’t head out until you have pre-loaded your children with a nutritious dinner. Serving some protein and lots of fibrous veggies will take the edge off their appetite and help keep their blood sugar on an even keel when the inevitable candy onslaught occurs later in the evening.
The joy of Halloween for children is not simply eating the candy. It is the costumes, the fun of trick-or-treating, the fireworks, the staying up late and being with friends. It is also the looking, the counting, the comparing and the sorting of the candy. In fact, I think this is often the best part for many kids. Let your kids lay out their loot and enjoy sorting their bounty.
If you wish, allow your kids to enjoy a number of their favourite treats when they get home from trick-or-treating. I then let them choose 3 or so of their favourites to keep and enjoy over the next few days to come. The rest gets put back in the loot bag and is left out by the pumpkin for the Switch Witch. The Switch Witch magically comes at night and whisks the candy bag away and leaves a coupon for the toy store. For older kids, a straight-out buy-back deal may be more appropriate. Parents may wish to buy their children’s candy in exchange for cold-hard cash. Note to parents, the idea behind this plan isn’t that you then eat the stash. Donate it, store it for later, use small amounts in baking or simply throw it out, it’s up to you. But remember: don’t stock temptation.
In order to make this successful, you ideally need the children to be on board with the program. If you can’t convince them to do a buy-back or use the services of the Switch Witch, then simply devise a plan on how to manage the loot.
Slick Trick #4: See Halloween as Learning Opportunity
If your child wishes to keep the stash of treats or perhaps you don’t want to fork out extra money for the buy-back, then simply work toward having your child be able to manage his own stash. Ultimately, we want our kids to be able to self-regulate their eating. If you have a child that exhibits sufficient self-control that they only eat moderate portions of their treats (for example 1-2) each day, then really you need not do anything.
For most children, some guidance may be necessary. I would make a deal with your children that if you see them managing their loot bag well, then you will not interfere. For example, this could mean enjoying 1-2 treats of their choice for dessert after meals as opposed to bingeing on 10 treats after school on an empty stomach. If your child can follow the rules, they get to keep the stash. If they can’t, then you become the banker and can dole out the odd treat after meals.
The bottom line is not to worry too much about this one sugar-laden day. Come to an agreement with your children before trick-or-treating as to what you will do with the stash. Do they want to do the buy-back, do they want to manage their own loot? Treat it as a learning opportunity to teach your kids about self-regulation and the health consequences of eating too much sugar. If you need a reminder about the perils of sugar, check out here and here. You may find that after a few days the kids tend to forget about their stash and it can magically disappear.
Festive Halloween Recipe:
Carrot Gingerbread Muffins Gluten-free, kid-friendly, low-sugar, high protein.
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup black strap molasses
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 3 cups shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk the eggs, butter or coconut oil, vanilla and molasses together in a large bowl. Sift in the coconut flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger. Mix until well combined and fairly smooth. Add the carrots and raisins, if using. Stir well. In a muffin tin, scoop 1/4 cup batter into each lined muffin container and bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. Makes 12 muffins.Share This: