I informally polled several parents on what kind of candy limits they set with their children on the days that follow Halloween and here’s what I heard back from them:
My kids are allowed to eat whatever they want that night and then they are allowed 1 piece in the lunch box or after school and then one piece after a healthy dinner for a couple of weeks.
I don’t really set any limits because it doesn’t seem to be a problem. They get bored of it and I just eventually toss it.
Honestly, it’s more of a problem for them than it is for me. I raid their candy bag more than they do.
I give them two weeks and then we give the remainder to a local food bank.
One week and then it’s gone.
When I asked children under the ages of twelve, some said they finish all their Halloween candy in less than a week, while others take an entire month or more. Many commented that they had equal amounts of fun at the candy trading session that followed their trick or treating. I have to say I do enjoy watching who goes for the chocolate, peanut butter or straight up sugar. Interestingly enough, some of them did comment about how too much sugar made them feel “wild” or gave them a belly ache. As a Registered Dietitian I know there’s no scientific research that supports the “crazies” after excess sugar rather it’s the lack of nourishing food, over stimulation and possibly food dye that creates the behavior. The belly ache on the other hand, can make for a good conversation on why you shouldn’t overdo any food or treat.
The World Health Organization recommends that we limit our sugar intake to 10 percent of our total calories per day. Halloween night aside, here’s how much sugar the average child consumes as a percentage of their total calories.
Age Boy Girl
Preschool 13.5% 13.1%
6-11 16.6% 15.7%
12-19 17.5% 16.6%
The majority of this comes from sugar sweetened beverages and after that, sugar found in foods such as cereals, bars, sweetened yogurt, sauces and condiments. So the problem is we’re already over the limit and extending Halloween from one night of excess to all month-long compounds a problem that is already a problem. However, overly restricting foods that are desirable, like candy can make it more desirable for young children and you can create a candy obsession if you’re not careful.
So what’s a parent to do? Know your child. If they are a healthy weight and can self make good decisions on when enough is enough, no intervention is needed. Oftentimes these are the kids who forget their candy is even there after a week and you can agree without any drama as to when it is time to toss the remains. However, with kids who do overdo it, set some limits. Check out what’s been collected and agree on what a realistic amount and time frame is.
- Switch Witch – this is where after a period of time, you switch the candy for a toy or special event such as a movie or outing.
- Halloween Buy Back – sends candy to our troops.
- Operation Gratitude – sends candy to our troops.
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Categories: Nutrition & Wellness