I don’t know about you, but it seems like around my house Halloween has morphed from a one day event to a week (or month!) long holiday. There are parades and parties and costume occassions for days leading up to the actual Trick or Treat event. Then they go out on Halloween night and bring back sacks of processed, sugary “treats”. You know what this lengthy holida means means? More candy comes into the house than we’re ever used to and I have to figure out a way to get it out.
Let me be clear. I love when kids get to be kids so I’m not advocating no candy. Sure, you’ll find other health professionals who are making fresh granola bars to pass out or trading their kid’s whole bag of candy for a store bought toy or some other reward. Those are all fine ideas and maybe some day I’ll aspire to them. But, for now I’m not baking for the entire neighborhood and I’m not willing to pay for my kids candy so I’ve learned a different compromise.
I believe life is all about balance and preaching about sugar and food dyes on the night that’s supposed to be about magic and fun isn’t balanced for anyone. My kids know about healthy eating, so one night of indulging won’t undo everything we do the other 364 days of the year.
Here is how I make sure my kids have fun without allowing the gluttony to get the better of us: Halloween is 24 hours in our house. What does that mean? Quite simply, the candy comes in and then is gone just a short time later. All the candy that comes in before that actual trick or treats, that which is tossed from parade floats or from school or neighborhood parties, gets lumped into one bowl that also collects the candy each of them get in trick or treat bags that night. Then, they pick their 3-5 favorite candies and they get to eat two that night and save the rest for a dessert treat the next day. If they want, I will let them spread it out over two dinners. Then the rest of the candy either gets donated to our orthodontist who ships it to soldiers overseas or it goes right in the trash can. I had to make peace over the years with throwing away the candy. I have a visceral reaction to wasted food so this one was tough. But, once I realized that the nutritional value of those bags of sweets really made them more like garbage than food it became a whole lot easier.
The good news is that my kids don’t feel like they are suffering. Am I doing it perfectly? Certainly not. Are there better, healthier plans out there? Sure. Might my kids have some friends who have stashes that last much longer and probably sneak my kids on playdates when I’m not looking? Of course. But I know they aren’t overindulging in my house and they know that Halloween is still good, sweet fun.