Tips to Tame the Halloween Sugar Rush

by Jodie Block on 10/26/2012

Halloween is upon us once again and that means one thing: an avalanche of candy abounds. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, Americans will spend close to two billion dollars on candy…and that boils down to A LOT of sugar.

Everyone knows that the empty calories contained in sugar cause unwanted weight gain in ourselves and our kids, but it also reeks havoc on our energy levels and our moods. If you don’t plan for this inevitability, it will surely put an end to the fun your kids had collecting their Halloween riches, when unpleasantness ensues at home because you’ve allowed them free reign over their sugary bounty.

Here’s where the problem starts: shortly after they break into the sweets, your kids will experience a spike in blood sugar, and the heightened energy that follows. But about 45 minutes later, there’s the inevitable crash and the crankiness and fatigue that their now lower-than-normal blood sugar levels bring on. What’s worse is, if left unguarded, your kids will continue to return to that bag of loot to get a little more sugar to lift their mood and energy level again. It’s a viciously corn-syrupy cycle, and you can avoid it if you plan ahead.

Small Frequent Meals

A good first step on Halloween day is to make sure your kids are eating small, frequent meals made up of a little protein and some fiber. This will help maintain a more constant blood sugar level so they can avoid the peaks and valleys and the mood changes that they cause.

Organize

Instead of stocking up on bags of fun-sized chocolate bars and miles of licorice ropes, try this approach: Map out the route you’ll follow and organize the neighborhood parents on that route ahead of time. Together, you can agree to a list of treats you’ll each share that aren’t harmful like traditional store-bought chocolates and other processed junk. Try handing out small pretzel bags, mini cereal bars, dried fruit or trail mix. Graham crackers and mini-milk cartons are still fun for your tinier trick-or-treaters, and even more so if you dress it up with some spooky decorations. Get a group of 10 to 15 neighborhood families to participate, and you can replace a cringe-worthy collection of candy with a sweet selection of treats to satisfy both your little goblins and your good sense.

Dole It Out

If you do come home with an overload of processed, unhealthy bite-sized diet busters, rather than controlling your kids’ sugar intake by inhaling it all yourself, make sure you know how much candy they each scored to avoid hidden hoarding in the days that follow. Decide how many pieces of candy are allowed per day and for how many days after the holiday is over. Make sure your kids know the rules before you take them out. If it’s not too close to bedtime, you can give them an extra piece or two on Halloween night. Then let them choose what else they want you to keep for them and dole out the loot on schedule, to prevent a free-for-all that lasts well into December. If you think it’s wasteful to just throw the extra away, you can check with your neighborhood Girl Scouts to see if their chapter is accepting extra candy to include in care packages being sent to US troops stationed overseas, or see if your local dentist is one of many around the nation who buy Halloween candy back from their patients, usually at about $1 per pound.

Most importantly this Halloween, remember that you can determine how the tradition is enjoyed in your family. Will you teach your kids to worship sugar and candy above all else, or will you make that secondary to the excitement of costumes and community and the delicious crispness of an autumn evening spent making silly memories with the ones you love? Setting boundaries doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, with a few guidelines upfront, trick-or-treating won’t be such a disaster to your kids’ middles or their moods…and the results of your rationing will be sweeter than you think. Just a Little Food for Thought.

For fun and healthy activities to keep your trick-or-treaters satiated and entertained, click here for some Halloween-themed links and resources.

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