Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My family’s tips on limiting Halloween candy

This is a guest post

I love Halloween. I love everything about it--trick or treating, costumes, parties, decorating the house, and the loads of candy. Yep, I’ll admit it. I love candy. But, I’m also a reasonable person who knows it’s not good for me, and that it’s certainly not good for my kids. So how do we balance the fun and excitement with the goal of having healthy kids whose teeth aren’t falling out? Here are the things that I have found work best for my family.

Halloween Day. Let’s start at the beginning of the day. Where my kids go to school, they each typically have a Halloween party, so they’re most likely already sugared up before they even get home. To try and counter that as best as I can, I make sure that they have a protein-packed lunch, and then I have a nutritious snack waiting for them. I might put out a plate of chopped veggies with some almonds and a few slices of cheese. Then I feed them dinner before we head out trick or treating so they’re not hungry before they get started.

Trick or Treating: The Big Event. Far be it from me to put a damper on trick or treating. We go all out around here, and we live in a neighborhood that’s packed with kids. My two daughters usually get a pretty good haul, but we try to be reasonable and limit how far we’re willing to walk. This in turn helps limit how much candy they bring home.

While trick-or-treating, we have a non-negotiable rule: No eating anything until you get home. Not only do I want to make sure the candy hasn’t been tampered with, but if they eat it while they’re trick or treating, they’ll mindlessly munch the whole time.

Let’s Eat Candy! Once we get home, they know ahead of time how much they’ll be allowed to eat. Three pieces to me seems reasonable. Then we do an extra good scrubbing on the teeth, and it’s off to bed.

Over the next few days, my girls spend a fair amount of time trading candy. During that week, they know how many pieces they are allowed to eat each day, and I let them choose when to eat it. It might seem odd that I would allow them to eat an Almond Joy before they’ve even had breakfast, but giving them control over “what” and “when” means they’ll argue or complain less about the “how much”.

Now What? So what do you do with the pile that’s still sitting around after a week? When my oldest was in 1st grade, she came home from school and told me about the Sugar Gnomes. Apparently these little guys come in to your house late at night and swap candy for a prize. At first, this seemed like a lot of work and a bit ridiculous, but then I realized, “What a great way to get rid of the candy!”. So now, after 4 of 5 days, the girls bag up some of their candy, place it by their beds, and in the morning, it’s been replaced by a toy or prize. I hate throwing things out, so the candy usually makes its way to mine or my husband’s office and is put in the breakroom. Otherwise I’ll end up eating it all!

Any candy that’s left is slowly doled out. The first week, they might be able to have 3 or 4 pieces a day because it’s still all very new and exciting. After that, it might dwindle down to one a day for a week or so, and then it goes back to becoming a rare treat. Before long, they forget it’s even there.

Author Bio: Hi, I’m Wendy Fanello, and I’m the mother of two daughters, ages 9 and 11. I love to get outside with my family, read, and garden. I’m also the Editor of an ultrasound career and education website. Read more of my work at:


  1. Over all I like your process. However when you come home, I would suggest that you sort the candy into groups; like chips, hard candy, chewy candy, and chocolate. This works on their organizing skills, then they can pick one thing from each category a day, and then you get a closer inspection of the candy to see if it has been tampered with.

    1. Great idea. Thanks for sharing the tip.


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