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Halloween Candy Overload?

Kids just love Halloween--the costumes, the parties, the pumpkins and, most of all, the candy! Parents, too, love the costumes, parties and pumpkins. But few parents look forward to all the problems caused by their child's yearly Halloween candy haul! The good new is that while parents will never look forward to seeing those bulging sacks of treats coming into their home, Halloween really doesn't have to create conflict and worry. Here are some ways to handle four of the biggest candy overload problems:

 My children end up eating too much candy.
Solution: Limit the amount of candy your kids collect, rather than attempting to stop them from eating it once they have it

.Ask your kids to pick just one or two trick-or-treating events. There's really no reason for them to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, at church, at the mall, at the parent's workplace, and then around their best friends neighborhood...unless you really want them to eat tons of candy!

You can also limit the amount of candy they get by having them walk from house to house rather than driving them. Not only does the walking give them some exercise, it also limits the number of houses they can visit.

If you want to limit them further, only go to the homes of people you know--which is not a bad idea for safety reasons, anyhow.

 My children and I endure endless negotiations about how much candy they can eat and when they can eat it.
Solution: Try something crazy: just let them eat their candy! It's not only easier, it's often healthier to let your children decide for themselves how much to eat and when they want to eat it. Why?

When kids are given control over their stash of candy, they'll be less fascinated with it. Give them the message that candy really isn't such a big deal. While it IS junk food--it is not something that's forbidden or dangerous...and therefore thrilling and desirable.


•When you let your kids eat candy--even a lot of candy on special occasions--it shows them that an occasional indulgence is fun, not a nutrition disaster. It also teaches them that your family doesn't have to be uptight or unhappy to have a mostly healthy diet.

Giving the kids control over their candy also lets them notice the signs from their body that they should stop eating. Of course, your kids might not know when to stop! But, as every parent knows, warnings and lectures are never as effective as real world experience. If your child ends up with a stomachache, gently explain that our bodies just don't feel great when we overindulge on junk foods. Learning this hard lesson can help kids start controlling their own impulse to binge.

As you watch your children "pig out," remember that if you were gradually doling out the candy, they would actually end up eating the exact same amount of candy--just over a longer period of time.

Establish candy-eating rules up front. For example, many parents won't allow candy before school or within an hour before dinner.

 

My child seems overly-interested in sweets, candy and junk food, and I want to make sure that Halloween candy doesn't encourage this interest.
Solution: Use Halloween as an opportunity to teach your kids to be "picky junk food eaters." 

With a bit of encouragement, most kids can be taught to notice whether or not candy (or other junk foods) actually tastes good to them. Tell your kids over and over that there is no point in eating an Empty/junk food that you don't love, and that it's always okay to say "No thank you." Then, be sure to praise them any time they decide to turn down junk food.

Role model picky junk food eating yourself. Say "No Thanks" to junk food you don't enjoy (including any less-than-tasty candy your kids offer you from their Halloween haul). Be sure to explain to your child that you don't really love that type of treat, so you aren't going to eat it.

When your kids come home with a candy haul, supply a trashcan. Encourage them to sort their candy and throw away any candy they don't want. Some kids will throw out huge quantities, while others will decide to keep it all. However, by introducing the idea of disposing of disliked junk food, you are teaching them to think before they eat.

Make certain to really throw away any candy your kids reject. Don't fall into the trap of saving it to give to someone else. The other person won't want your leftovers--nobody really needs extra candy in October. Plus, if you don't get around to throwing it out, you may end up eating it!

But, candy is junk food and I want to make sure all this candy doesn't harm their health.
Solution: Feed your children extra nutritious food for meals and snacks! Eating all that candy really won't hurt kids... if you make sure they are also getting the protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients their bodies need.
•Feed your kids their favorite, healthy foods before and after they go trick-or-treating. Their bodies will get the nutrition they need and candy is often less appealing when you are already full.

Sweets often make kids thirsty, so give your kids a glass of nonfat milk to enjoy along with their candy.

Since you know your child is getting lots of sugary foods around Halloween, avoid feeding them healthier-seeming foods that are loaded with sugar such as yogurt tubes, chocolate milk, granola bars, fruit chews and juice.

Before and after Halloween, add in extra healthy food whenever you can. Have fruit for dessert, veggies and dip for snacks, and serve nonfat milk with meals. Try adding in extra whole-grain foods, too. Then relax, and enjoy your Halloween family adventures.

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