Parents, do you know what to do with all that Halloween candy? However, many parents make mistakes when it comes to handling their children’s Halloween loot. It is important not only for the health of your kids but also for your wallet to be aware of these common errors or else you may end up throwing away more than just candy!
Halloween may be all about trick-or-treating, but there’s nothing fun about putting on pounds. The average child gains only one pound per year, so eating too much candy can make them gain weight fast. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , in 2008–09, children and adolescents ate about nine pounds of candy per person. This adds up to 1.4 billion pounds across the country!
One way to prevent this? Donate your child’s extra candy to troops overseas or veterans here at home. The Soldiers’ Angels Halloween Candy Buyback Program collects unopened candy from soldiers and their families, then donates the goods to our troops. According to its website, this program has collected over 2 million pounds of candy, which was used for more than 70,000 care packages.
Some parents choose not to give out Halloween candy at all. This is a great solution for parents who are skeptical about how nutritious some treats are or those who want to teach their kids that not everyone receives candy on Halloween.
If you decide to go this route, prepare yourself by taking note of how many children are taking part in trick-or-treating this year so you have an idea of how much candy to buy. Also, be sure to take stock of what candy your child already has before going shopping.
The next step is to buy a variety of candy so you can switch things up and maximize your child’s options. Also, as with any treat, make sure the chocolate bars you select are higher in cocoa content. The higher the cacao percentage is on the label, the less sugar and filler ingredients are included. In fact, if possible, buy chocolate with a cacao content over 70 percent. Be careful because some candy brands have been known to lie about their product’s percentage!
What about those chocolate bars that claim to be sugar free? Although a better choice than most candy bars, these still contain calories from maltitol, a sugar alcohol that has been known to cause diarrhea and other stomach issues.
Lastly, if you need ideas for healthy alternatives to candy bars, check out this list from the American Dental Association. Also consider these little gems: dark chocolate-covered raisins (made with organic grapes), yogurt-coated pretzels, honey-sweetened cereal, fat-free wafers with chocolate or peanut butter, dark chocolate chips , caramels made with maple syrup.
Just remember that the key to trick-or-treating success is moderation. If you are giving out candy this year, limit your child’s intake to one or two fun-sized items per day. If you are not, don’t worry; there are plenty of healthy treats out there to keep both your kids and their teeth happy!