With Halloween right around the corner many parents are wondering – how much candy is okay for your little ones to be gobblin’ up? Well, as the Guilt-Free RD, and a mom, AND a candy-lover – I’d like to share some tips for sweet success.
First of all, I’m a firm believer in dietitian, author and child nutrition expert Ellyn Satter’s approach to the “sticky” topic of Halloween candy. In addition to Satter’s expert advice that encourages parents to allow children to learn how to manage sweets, here are some strategies that my daughter and I shared on TV that you can try to help manage the candy crush. By the way, yes, we are dressed in costume! I’m a ‘devil with a blue dress on’ and my daughter is a ‘teen angel’. You gotta have some fun with these TV segments – so much work goes into them!
1. TREAT yourself but don’t let the small sizes TRICK you. Those little fun-size candy bars can add up quickly. Before you know it you’ve eaten the equivalent of 2 or 3 regular size candy bars.
• Tip: Don’t hide the evidence! According to Brian Wansink, Cornell University professor and author of Mindless Eating, study participants ate about half as much candy when they kept the wrappers in sight.
2. Is moderation in the eye of the ‘candyholder’? When it comes to candy, some groups define moderation as 50-100 calories a day (see list below for examples and calories).
3. If you’d like to offer healthier options to trick-or-treaters who ring your doorbell, here are some kid-friendly alternatives: pretzels, raisins, silly putty, stickers, erasers.
Want to have your candy and eat it, too? Try these tips:
1. Have kids sort their candy into 3 piles: really like, sort of like and don’t like.
2. Put the “really like” candy into 100-calorie snack baggies to help control portions.
3. For leftover “sort of like” and “don’t like” candy, consider the following options:
• Placing in the freezer or cupboard for “out of sight, out of mind” strategy
• Giving your kids the option of an “upgrade” – after they’ve had some time to enjoy their loot, let them trade in their candy for money or a toy, or keep the candy if they prefer.
• Donating the extra candy – but NOT to food banks! They need nutrient-rich foods! Click here for a list from the Greater Chicago Food Depository of most needed items. Chances are your local food bank needs similar items. Instead, consider the Halloween Candy Buy Back program many local dentists are participating in. They buy back candy from kids and send it to the troops overseas. Click here for more information and to find a participating dentist near you.
For more Halloween candy information check out these Trick-or-Treat Tidbits from the National Confectioners Association.
1 Hershey kiss 26
1 dum dum sucker 20
1 hershey nugget 45
1 mini (3 musketeer, milky way, twix) 38
1 reese’s mini PB cup 44
1 tootsie roll midge 23
1 jolly rancher 23
1 small tube whoppers 30
1 smarties roll 25
1 laffy taffy 32
1 twizzler twist 32
1 fun size nestle crunch, twix 50
1 M&M mini box 70
1 fun size Charleston chew 45
1 fun size milk duds 54
1 fun size Hershey bar 67
1 fun size kit kat 73
1 fun size heath bar 74
1 fun size mounds 83
1 fun size mr. goodbar 90
1 tootsie roll bar 50
1 pkg (2 pc) starburst 40
1 fun size snickers 80
1 fun size almond joy 80
I hope you enjoy Halloween as much as my family does! By planning a strategy that works for you and making choices that you feel good about, you CAN have your candy and eat it, too!
If YOU have candy tips and tricks to share, please post a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!
If you liked this post, check out my other Food for Thought posts and my podcast A Grain of Salt: A Closer Look at Nutrition News.