Halloween is just a few days away and we will be inundated with candy once more. A little candy once a year is probably pretty harmless, but more and more I am realizing that candy in today’s culture is not just a one-time isolated event. Candy is being dressed up into sugary drinks, granola bars, and cereals. It’s used as rewards for good behavior, perfect attendance, and even for doing a great job at the doctor’s office! It tricks us into treating all year long.
Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard we try, junk just follows us everywhere we go! So here are a few ground rules to set so that you can still have fun during the holiday, but also keep focused on making it a real food Halloween instead.
- Set limits on candy.
While I’d love to just throw all of it in the trash, I know that’s not reality. We often talk about letting life happen some of the time and that pertains to holidays as well. While we don’t let our kids go crazy with candy, we do allow them to have a few pieces on Halloween night and also let them keep 10 of their favorite pieces for later. We put it away in a cabinet to pull from on occasion to put in their lunch or for an after dinner treat. Honestly, those 10 pieces last us almost the entire year until Halloween comes again!
- Focus on the dressing up.
Try to make Halloween more about the fun of picking and creating their costume. That involves creativity and imagination!
- Create candy alternatives.
I often try and steer my kids into more real food treats whenever I can. When they ask for candy, I tell them that I will make chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip blondies (made with chickpeas!), or mint chip “nice” cream. That way they are not deprived of getting a treat, but we do it without all the added junk.
- Be proactive.
Knowing the possible inundation of sugar at a party or trick or treating, make sure there is good food in your kid’s belly before and after. Pull your kids aside and tell them they can have one piece of candy with her friends. Everything else has to come home and gone through later.
- Be a role model.
Parents are important role models in their children’s food choices. We can determine what types and how much food they are exposed to all year long, why should Halloween be any different?
What to Do with the Candy You Get
Doing an internet search, you will find some ideas for leftover Halloween candy including donating to your local Ronald McDonald House, nursing homes, food pantries, children’s hospitals, veterans’ homes, or women’s shelters. I am personally not a huge fan of donating candy to other people. As a real food advocate for everyone, if it’s not good enough to keep around my house then I don’t want other people eating it either! Especially low income families challenged with access to real food, or kids or adults that are battling potentially life threatening diseases that are fueled by sugar like cancer! Oy Vey!
Try these alternatives instead:
- Trade it in for money.
Determine an amount of money you will pay for each piece of candy. Let your kids take the money they earn and add it to their savings, spending, sharing jars.
- Find a local dentist that participates in the Halloween Buyback Program.
Again, I hate that they are sending the candy overseas as our troops deserve to eat healthy too. So, maybe you can find a local dentist that will take the candy and donate money to a local charity or give out toothbrushes to the underprivileged instead.
- Leave it out for the Switch Witch to take.
On Halloween night at bedtime, kids leave a heap of their trick-or-treat sweets with their Switch Witch pal… and in the morning they will see their candy has been switched for a special switch gift!
- Allow them to trade in their candy for the “gift of an experience.”
We started asking for family members to do this for Christmas last year. We’d much rather experience something together than have more “stuff!” So why not trade in candy for a night out at the movies (bring your own homemade popcorn), or some jumpy time at a bounce place…or a new favorite of ours is going roller skating!
- Get Crafty!
The wrappers can be used for decoupage or other crafts and the candy itself can be re-purposed for your gingerbread house at Christmas. You can even make glossy paint out of Skittles!!!
- Use it for math games.
M&M’s can be used for addition and subtraction or, you can sort your candy (chocolate, gum, lollipops, fruit snacks, etc.) and figure out what percentage each group contributed to your total amount.
- Donate your candy to science.
Have a science fair coming up? There are lots of great candy experiments you can do at home.
How will you be handling Halloween this year?
Until next time, keep it real.
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