Halloween 2008–I Want Candy!

photo by Leslie Kelly (who doesn’t let her child eat all this candy)

Maria-Paula Carrillo, registered dietitian of Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, offers these great tips fun and tasty alternatives to candy as well as how to keep the late night tummy aches away.

Alright, Halloween kicks off the holiday season when it comes to all sorts of goodies (sugar, fat). How do we keep the fun in the holiday season without allowing our children to glutton themselves on candy?

– Make sure your little trick or treaters don’t go out on an empty stomach.  Start the evening by eating a healthy dinner before going out on the streets. Hopefully this will keep them from overdoing it on the sweets.

– Enjoy decorating for the season!  You can even consider starting a neighborhood contest for the scariest/most decorated house.  On Halloween night you could go see different houses around the block and vote on which one has the best decorations.  If you set the tradition of focusing on other activities, the candy takes second place.

What are some great alternatives to giving out candy for trick-or-treaters?

-Stickers, pencils, coins, glow in the dark toys, balloons, and other inexpensive Halloween trinkets are good non food choices.

– Pre-packaged dried fruit, peanut butter crackers (watch out for those with allergies!), Rice cereal treats, sugar-free gelatin, 100 calorie packs can be better than sugar-filled candy.

– You can make a contest of this too!  Vote on the house that gives the most original “treat” to the kids, let them be the judges!

Many parents let the kids have as much candy as they want on Halloween, then the rest goes in the trash or to the parents work. There are others who allow a few pieces of the child’s choice on Halloween then one piece a day until the candy is gone. What of these is a better approach and why? Or are there better approaches to this?

– I believe it depends on your parenting style (and your kid’s style, too!).  Whichever you choose, stick to it.  If you know your kids will want more than just a few pieces with their school lunch, you may want to offer cash for some of the candy.  You can buy it from them and make each piece worth 10 cents. They can trade that candy in for something like going to the movies or getting a new game.

– Get creative, some families can have a candy jar at home and kids will respect it.  One piece after meals, two pieces for snacks, etc.  You set the rules and they follow, otherwise.no candy jar!

If parents are going to set limits (i.e. you can only have three pieces of candy tonight) should they discuss this prior to venturing out?

Definitely, it is very important for children to feel their parents communicate with them.  I would suggest setting the ground rules a week before so the excitement of the day doesn’t rush in and cause chaos.  Make sure you stick to the rules you set up – consistency for everyone is very important.

With all these empty calories, kids can easily get tummy aches or constipated. What are some things parents can do to help avoid this?

– Remember the suggestion of eating dinner before going out. Make sure it includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  Fiber is great to make those tummies feel full and will prevent constipation.

– Assuring your children are well hydrated from non-sugar containing beverages (water!) would be my number second suggestion.

What are some great games parents and kids can play about the importance of nutrition before gathering all this sweet treats?

– You can play the stop light game and teach kids what foods are always foods (green light), sometimes foods (yellow light), rarely foods (red light), then let them classify different things in the pantry.

– Another great idea is to allow each family member to pick a fruit or vegetable of the day, everyone has to eat it with all meals.it’s fun to come up with different recipes.

Additional Comments?


– Let kids be kids J, but let parents be parents too

Need more info on how to keep Halloween fun, but safe? Check out our article on Halloween safety from an injury prevention specialist.

We’ve got more great information on Halloween, including how to keep your child safe and not freaked out with all the scary images.


Hot Moms Club was founded in 2005 and have had their fingers on the pulse of mom trends ever since. Their philosophy is simple, ‘You are not the best mom unless you are the BEST YOU!’

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