Chances are, even the healthiest family might find they’re drowning in candy and chocolate this week. Of course, it’s to be expected – it’s Halloween! But if it’s your first year going trick-or-treating, you might be surprised at exactly how much candy even one street can yield. It’s a lot, folks. And while I’m all for throwing moderation out the window for those rare traditions that revolve around treats and food (think Christmas cookies, birthday cakes, and yes, Halloween), the amount of candy most kids receive from trick-or-treating is utter chaos. Halloween is that one holiday that I can’t fully get behind, because of the sheer amount of sugar and all of the subsequent challenges it brings. Thankfully after several years of facing this conundrum with my three, I’ve come to a happy solution that leaves both my children and me happy.
Some parents may choose to hide (or eat) all of their children’s Halloween candy when they’re not looking. No judgement from me – they don’t need it all! Others might look the other way and allow the kids to binge, After all it’s only once a year, right? I propose a middle way that still enjoys the fruits of their trick-or-treating labour, but also keeps the sweets in check.
A fleeting free-for-all
Halloween night is a free-for-all in our home. The kids are allowed to nibble on candy as they’re trick-or-treating, heck, I count on that sugar rush to keep them out past bedtime! It will make bath time and a later bedtime very difficult, but again, it’s only once a year. This is a fun option because after Halloween night we rejoin reality and candy is not a daily part of our lives.
Keep a bit, reuse some, toss most
Once Halloween has come and gone and the kids have heaps of candy to look through, what do we do? It’s fun but it’s absolutely too much for young children, and I’m not about to have them eating pure sugar for each snack until Christmas. We allow our kids a certain number (most years it’s been ten) of candies to keep. They know all along that they aren’t keeping everything, so this doesn’t cause heartbreak. Setting the expectations is key! The remaining chocolate is saved for baking (Aero bar banana bread is our favourite) or tossed. While it is wasteful throwing away those unwanted lollipops and sour candies, I’m not persuaded enough to justify letting my kids eat that much sugar. I like that this approach allows us to re-use most of the chocolate that the kids don’t keep for baking and that they still get their very favourite candy for about a week.
No Sweets November
After the sugar high of Halloween and before the baking frenzy of Christmas we practice No Sweets November as a family. The kids are exempt from No Sweets November for the first week as they finish off their ten candies (roughly one per day, two a day on weekends), and then they join us in taking a month off sweets. It’s a great detox after and before two very sugar-fuelled holidays and helps us appreciate the annual traditions around food all the more.
Halloween is a fun day to see your little ones dressed up and to run around the community after dark. It’s exciting to stay up late, be in costume, and of course, have so many treats! As parents who strive for a healthy lifestyle, holidays like this can pose a tricky balance, but I think we’ve found what works for us.