When you’re a kid, Halloween usually means only two things: costumes and candy! Lots and lots of candy! So. Much. Candy.
It’s not just all the sugar that can be a fright. Many treats also come packed with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and other less-than-desirable ingredients.
Even so, it’s not that health-conscious parents don’t want their kids to have trick-or-treat fun. They may even be cool with their kids enjoying some of the sweet treats they collect in their bucket or goodie bag or pillowcase. What they may not be so cool with is their kids overdoing it. They want to help their kids manage their Halloween haul.
(Not sure about how important that is? Consider just one dental aspect of the issue: The maximum sugar intake to prevent cavities is roughly 15 grams. That’s the total amount of sugar in a single “fun size” Hershey bar. Some “fun” or “snack” sized candy bars contain even more.)
Here are 7 tips to help make sure that all those Halloween treats don’t become Halloween tricks:
- Be choosy. Have your children pick through their Halloween treats and decide which ones they really want to eat. Keep those and get rid of the rest. Consider donating the extra to troops overseas or a local shelter. (You’ll find more ideas, with links, here.)
- Have a candy swap. Have your kids trade a portion of their candy for a small toy, book, or other non-food item they want.
- Set limits. Make a rule for how much of their trick-or-treat treasure your kids can eat each day.
- Let them gorge, not graze. Sugar is the favorite food of harmful oral bacteria. Grazing on sweets throughout the day means you’re constantly feeding the microbes that cause tooth decay. Encourage your kids to eat their daily allotment all at once instead.
- Stick to mealtimes. Let your kids have their candy only after they’ve eaten a regular meal. Otherwise, they may fill up on the sweet stuff and not want to eat the real nutrient-dense food they need.
- Have them brush first. It probably sounds weird, since we all grow up hearing “brush after meals,” but there’s actually a benefit to brushing BEFORE eating anything, especially sweets. Removing the plaque first limits acid production, so the teeth are more protected.
- If you have them brush after, wait at least a half hour. That allows enough time for saliva to neutralize the acids generated by eating sweets (not to mention those in some candy, such as sour gummies, too). Brushing sooner than that can mean enamel damage.
Have some strategies of your own for limiting the amount of sugar your kids eat in the days after trick-or-treating? Let us – and others! – know in the comments!
Image modified from a photo by Vu Nguyen, via Flickr