Halloween can be a very exciting and challenging time for parents. As we all know, children get very excited about dressing up in their favourite character and going door-to-door saying “trick or treat.” As it turns out, it really isn’t “trick OR treat”. It seems the treats accumulate in the kids bags whereas the trick is really for the parents, who now have to figure out how to help their children negotiate their way through all their treats!

Halloween certainly is a very fun experience for children. Dressing up and collecting containers/bags filled with candy, what could be more thrilling? However, we must also acknowledge the global epidemic of childhood obesity and overeating. Many people will simply suggest making an exception for Halloween as it is one day a year, but the many treats collected on Halloween can last days to weeks or even months, much longer than the intended exception. That being said, how often are exceptions made? Birthday parties, other holidays, snacks after hockey or dance or even school; the list most definitely goes on and on. It is critical that we help children learn how to eat their treats in moderation as this is a good lesson for any day of the year and not just for exceptions!

Here are some tips to help limit your child’s candy consumption this Halloween:

  1. Discuss the number of treats they can have when they get home or in general at any one time. Set limits on when they are allowed to have a treat (ie not before a meal).
  2. Encourage them to use their Halloween candies to “trade-up” for something they have been wanting (ie a book, toy, game).
  3. Allow them to select their favourite candy or a certain portion of what they collected and use the rest to distribute to trick-or-treaters for the rest of the night.
  4. Allow them to select their favourite candy or a certain portion of what they collected and put the rest in a jar for mom/dad to take to work to share with their coworkers.
  5. If you have more than one child, have them take turns either trick-or-treating for candy or a charity (ie UNICEF which distributes donation boxes) and then have them split the candy they collected as a team at the end. They will not only have fun trick-or-treating, but they will learn the importance of philanthropy.

We hope this info has been helpful and we would be happy to hear from you if you’ve tried any of these tips. Please feel free to share any others you may have!

If you live in Toronto and would like nutrition support for your child, feel free to learn more about the Kindercare Pediatric’s clinical nutrition programs.