Everyone seems to love Halloween candy, but what about the leftovers stashed in bags for weeks after that keep coming back to haunt your family? If you’re a parent of a trick-or-treater (or just a lover of Halloween candy yourself), you want to indulge that sweet tooth, but in a way that doesn’t give you a total sugar overload. So what to do with all that leftover candy? In this blog post, we will talk about how to manage Halloween candy so that your kids can enjoy some treats without blowing the lid off their sugar intake.
Healthy Ways to Overcome the Halloween Candy Battle
Satisfy your sweet tooth the healthy way
Baking is fun to encourage your children to get into the kitchen and use some of their candy by thinking a little outside the box. Add chocolate pieces to some pumpkin chia pudding or to other favorite baked goods. You can also add some of the small candies to a trail mix with nuts, seeds, or dried fruit to balance out the sugar with a little protein and fiber.
Use as a garnish or topping for your favorite smoothie or shake. To blunt the effects of excess sugar, add a scoop of protein powder for more balanced nutrition. This works well with crumbled peanut butter cups, or anything with caramel or nuts.
How much candy you use per treat is up to you, but moderation is still key to avoid a Halloween sugar rush.
When sugar cravings hijack your child’s brain chemistry, find out how a registered dietitian at CentreSpringMD can help break the addiction.
Blow-out or moderation?
Some research suggests that the healthiest way to approach Halloween candy (and other sweets) is actually with very little restriction at all. If you’re thinking this sounds crazy–here’s the science behind it.
Research has proven that restricting a certain food leads to continued binging on that food later (1). And that if you remove the restrictions, you also take away the emotional power that Halloween candy has over your child. It’s no longer restricted, so it’s no longer sought after in the same way. This is one key piece of the psychology behind intuitive eating.
At the same time, we know that allowing your child to eat as much Halloween candy as he or she wants isn’t the best way to go about it either.
This method is most effective when offering the candy for just one night to allow your child to learn to set his or her own limits. Afterwards, it’s important that parents talk to them about hunger and fullness–especially if they went a little overboard. This helps strengthen their ability to identify how certain behaviors and foods make them feel, and will guide healthy decision-making in the future (2).
When setting any goal for healthier eating, reducing sugar intake, or even losing weight, you’ll have more success with a qualified health coach by your side. Experience the difference here.
Consider swapping the kids’ candy stash.
For a multitude of reasons, including allergies, food reactivity, and more, sometimes you just have to avoid the candy consumption altogether. And that’s where “the switch witch” saves the day.
The idea is that a good witch drops by your house while your children are sleeping, swipes their Halloween candy, and leaves an awesome toy in its place. Most kids are ready and willing to make this bargain, which means your trick-or-treaters still get to participate in the fun, but with zero sugar rush.
Use the rationing strategy
Choosing to ration out Halloween treats slowly over the course of a few weeks is probably one of the more common ways to make sure trick-or-treaters don’t go overboard with extra sugar.
A fun-size candy bar packed with lunch or chocolate pieces served with their afternoon snack makes the candy accessible, but not so much that there’s unfettered access. It’s also not uncommon for kids to lose interest or forget about their leftover Halloween candy after a couple weeks of this. Though it is a good idea to keep these treats out of sight and out of mind!
In the end, kids are likely to consume much less sugar overall.
Avoiding Halloween Candy Overload
There are a few considerations particularly for immune health in the midst of a possible sugar overload. Having a healthy Halloween can feel impossible in a time during which the main festive event will focus on foods and treats that your family would rather not consume all the time.
Why Halloween candy can be a real issue
Halloween kicks off the start of the holiday season filled with treats and comfort foods that are usually high in calories and sugar, but low in essential nutrients.
This increase treats–and decrease in nutrient-dense foods– coincides with changing weather and can really decrease your child’s immune function. This creates greater susceptibility to opportunistic germs just waiting to cause a sickness.
For example, a study done on human participants at Loma Linda University in the 1970s published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the ability of white blood cells to fight bacteria was greatly decreased after consuming sugars. And those effects lasted sometimes as long as 5 hours afterwards (3).
Put simply, if we’re spiking blood sugar 3-4 times daily, this puts a big damper on the immune system’s ability to function optimally.
What to do if you have too much sugar or Halloween candy
Have some protein. A more nutrient-dense food, like a hard-boiled egg, peanut butter, or cheese can reduce blood sugar spikes that create mood swings, irritability, and fatigue a few hours later.
Don’t overcompensate. After a sugar-binge, you might feel the urge to restrict calories or fast for the next several hours or the following day. And while intermittent fasting can be a great tool, it’s not appropriate for kids, and it’s actually better to simply resume with balanced meals and snacks if you’ve eaten too much candy.
Get moving. For most kids, a little extra activity isn’t an issue, but some adults may feel lethargic and sleepy after a candy sugar binge. Take a walk, do a little strength training, or play a game outside to help the body use stored glucose (sugar) faster, and release natural anti-inflammatory signals.
Talk to your kids about the importance of healthy habits. Learning to identify how your body feels after eating different foods and activities is a key piece of whole-body wellness. This way, you can emphasize choices that make your body feel good, as opposed to labeling foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy” so you can mindfully enjoy all foods.
Read more: 10 Simple Actions for Optimal Health
Pediatric Wellness for the Fall Season
Because Halloween occurs right at the beginning of cold and flu season, an influx of sugar can result in compromised immune function, and set the stage for continued bad habits throughout the holiday season. For the best prevention and treatment options, check out the After 5 Wellness Membership or the Under 5 Wellness Membership.
Integrative medicine can help you best support your child’s whole-body health, including:
Nutritional status – Allergies, food sensitivities, gaps in nutrition, sensory issues, and so much more create deficiencies that aren’t always obvious to parents.
Immune function – frequent illness, and the impending cold and flu season are big reasons to get peace of mind that your child’s immune system is a 10/10.
Digestive function – Fat malabsorption, imbalanced gut flora, and problems impacted by the gut-brain connection are common in children.
Staying healthy amidst a sea of sweet treats and other indulgences can seem impossible, but with a few intentional habits, you and your kids can enjoy a healthy holiday season without the constant battle over the candy dish. And CentreSpringMD is here to make sure you have all the tools you need to feel your best.
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