What to do about all the Halloween candy my kids collect (and want to eat)

October 19, 2009

The title, in case you were wondering, is a question. I don’t have the answers.

All year, I try to meter out the candy and chocolate in small doses. I think healthy, active kids like mine should have some sugar, but that it should be seen as a treat, not a daily priviledge. And of course I try to avoid the sugar rush before bedtime. So dessert is occasional, but not out of the question, and candy et al is allowed, but not always. A personal pet peeve has always been the birthday loot bag stuffed with candy and cheap plastic toys. I pride myself on trying to come up with creative alternatives every year. But that’s another blog post for another day.

As for Halloween, it gets harder to fight each year. As the boys get older, they stay out trick or treating longer and come home with more and more loot. So they each have a bag full of candy for the better part of November and some of December. How long do we let them keep dipping into it?

I’ve heard the theory that says you should let them eat all they want for a day or two, in the assumption that they’ll eat themselves sick and stop voluntarily. Then I read this article and decided we weren’t trying that this year.

I’ve always favoured the “Let’s Make a Deal” model. I let them eat some stuff Halloween night, then send them to bed. Eventually they sleep.  In the morning, we play our game. I come armed with lots and lots of healthy snacks, like fruit leather, raisins, pudding, granola bars, etc. They can each choose a limited number of things from their stash (last year it was 14 I think) to keep. After that, they trade their unhealthy food for my healthy alternatives. they like the game, they still end up with a bag of goodies, and I don’t feel quite as horrible about letting them eat out of the bags on a regular basis. And I give the candy away to either the food bank or my co-workers.

Last year we did the deal game, then also set a limit on how long the bags could last. I think we gave them one month, and as of December 1, we took it all away, eaten or not (lots of not).

All these strategies work to a point, but with my older son approaching 9, I wonder how long I can keep it up. The thrill of the trading game is bound to wear off soon.

What do you do about the Halloween candy?