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The trick to setting limits on Halloween treats? Good communication

Tips for keeping your child’s nutrition on track with a mother lode of ghoulish sweets
(Getty Images)

Most parents would agree that one of the most daunting aspects of Halloween is the combination of kids and too much candy. So what is the best way to avoid increased sugar intake without eliminating the excitement of the holiday haul?

Communication is key, says Sarah Sahl, R.D.N., L.D., a dietician at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

“If you want to set limits on the amount of candy your child will enjoy this Halloween, try discussing a plan with your kids before they embark on their trick-or-treating adventure. This not only builds trust, but it also makes it easier to set reasonable limits before all of that tasty temptation is sitting in front of them.”

Sahl suggests the following to help ration candy intake and reduce the risk of a potential Halloween “food fight” with your child:

  • Limit the number of houses your child visits when trick-or-treating. This will help control the amount of candy received.
  • Ask your child to choose two or three of their favorite types of candy and then eliminate the rest.
  • Encourage children to hand out candy, instead of trick-or-treating.
  • Consider a candy “trade-in” program at a local dentist, doctor’s office or school.

The most important thing to remember, says Sahl, is that there is room for some of everything in our diets, even candy. 

“While the recommendation is to consume healthy foods a majority of the time, kids and adults alike should be allowed to experience the sweet side of Halloween and other annual celebrations,” said Sahl. “A simple reminder to kids that candy and other treats are an occasional indulgence and not a source of nourishment will help to set a positive precedence about food overall. Then, once the celebration is over, a healthy and balanced eating regimen should live on.”

Sahl also serves as the director of the Child Development & Rehabilitation Center’s Feeding & Swallowing Disorder’s Clinic at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

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