It's inevitable, especially if you have kids. Costco-sized bags of candy sitting in your house, looking at you every time you pass them. A "fun-sized" Snickers here, some Swedish fish there...what's the harm? Most dietitians will tell you there isn't real harm in a piece of candy here and there. The harm comes when it becomes a habit. When we buy Halloween candy early, the chances of us consuming it regularly goes up. And when the chances of us consuming it regularly goes up, it can quickly become a habit that sticks with us well after Halloween. Believe me, I know! I'm not only a dietitian, but I also don't have a sweet tooth. And even I'm tempted by the bowls of candy in front of me. So, some strategies that have worked for some of our clients:
1. Buy candy as late as possible. If it's not available to you, it's not available to you. So do yourself a favor, and wait to buy your Halloween candy until the day before or morning of.
2. Make access more difficult. When you do get it home, keep it somewhere that makes access more difficult. The trunk of your car, the attic, the garage or your office are great places for safekeeping until the big night. And make it a point NOT to open the bags until Halloween!
3. Buy non-candy treats. Glow bracelets, Halloween-themed toys/pencils/erasers, super balls, and card games (you can buy them for less than a dollar a pack) are great choices. Or, what we give out every year are low-sugar juice boxes and small bottles of water. All that running around makes for thirsty kids (and parents!). So, a hydrating option along the trick-or-treating route is a nice alternative. I remember the first year I did it...my kids were embarrassed to be *that* house. But after seeing how thrilled kids were to receive this different option has quickly changed their minds.
4. Eat before you treat. On the actual day, be sure you and your little ones have a healthy meal before heading out. The more real food they eat to fill their bellies, (hopefully) the less candy they (and you) will eat later on. At the very least, everyone has a good meal to fuel the evening.
5. Give it away. Early on, we introduced the idea of the Switch Witch. She comes to your house after the kiddos are asleep, takes the candy and leaves a small gift in its place. The candy would then be donated to the troops. Offices, schools and even neighbors are often convenient drop-off points. And now that they're a bit older, we explain exactly where the candy goes on November 1, and they seem totally fine with that.
6. Enjoy the holiday. Perhaps the most important thing to remember: enjoy the fun of the night, and don't beat yourself up if you have more than your share of candy. It happens to everyone, as we are all, well, human. The last thing you (or your kids) want is to associate shame or other negative feelings with this super fun holiday. So, enjoy that piece of candy and make some lasting memories!
Happy Halloween, everyone!