While Camela Corcoran, a Weber State University student, figures out each year how to sneak candy away from her kids so they don’t eat it all in one night, her oldest daughter studies a map of all the houses that give out full-size candy bars.
Candy is children’s booty during Halloween time, but for health-conscious parents, it’s a task to regulate youngsters’ sugar highs.
“The night of Halloween is kind of a free-for-all,” Corcoran said, “then, after that, like two or three pieces a day.”
Corcoran has three children who are all going trick-or-treating this year. She said she doesn’t think she’ll be able to steal away from the older two, but still plans on throwing away some of her youngest daughter’s candy.
“I only pull the stupid stuff, the stuff she might eat while I’m gone and choke on,” Corcoran said.
Joan Thompson, a WSU nutrition professor, said she thinks the most important way to keep a child healthy this Halloween season is to make healthy food fun. She shared how her daughter made a veggie plate look like a jack-o-lantern face using carrots as the pumpkin and greens for the mouth and eyes.
Melissa Masters, another WSU nutrition professor, suggested another strategy.
“Just teaching your kids it’s OK to have this candy, but you need to be consuming it in moderation,” she said.
Masters said that when she used to nanny, she gave the children one candy every day following Halloween until it was gone. She suggested giving a miniature candy bar to children for dessert so they “won’t get this insult of sugar” to their bodies because they already have food in their stomachs.
Halloween is the kickoff to what Thompson called “culturally approved feasting,” which she said she does not believe in because it’s not good for anybody.
“If you really look at what this does with our dietary rules, this is a violation,” Thompson said. “It is so counter-supporting optimal health.”
She also said children who eat a lot of candy will experience sugar highs and then crash. Masters said if this happens, it could be used as a learning experience.
“As a kid, even after you eat too much in one sitting, you can start to feel like, ‘Oh, I don’t feel so good,'” Masters said. When this happens, she said, parents can teach their children not to overindulge.
Masters will be giving out miniature candy bars at her door and Thompson will be giving out bags of Goldfish, pretzels and nutrient-fortified fruit snacks. They both will probably be left off of Corcoran’s daughter’s houses to hit.