Most parents fear Halloween candy because they loathe dealing with sugar crazed children or they feel guilty watching them scarf down a pillowcase full of junk food. For those of you watching your own calories and sugar intake, you may be more scared about controlling yourself with candy than your kids.
It's important to enjoy all things in moderation, but if a big bag of chocolates and candy corn is too much for you to resist, it's best to limit your exposure. As goes with all junk food, if it's not in the house, you can't eat it during a moment of weakness. You could simply throw it all out, but then you risk future therapy sessions with your adult children for denying them the joy of celebrating one of childhood's greatest holidays. Plus, what are you teaching them about indulgence, self-control, and moderation?
Fear not, we've got you covered. You can teach your children about healthy eating, let them enjoy some of their favorite Halloween candies, and still manage to avoid packing on any unwanted pounds.
Best from the Rest
First, separate the best from the rest. The healthy treats (usually handed out from houses that even you hated as a kid) get an immediate free pass: trail mixes, nuts, raisins, granola bars, and other non-candy items live to see another day.
Next, have your children go through their bags and pick out their absolute favorite candies. You can choose the number of items they can select, or just let them loose. (Of course anything that's already opened or suspicious goes in the trash.) Having your children pick which candy stays and which candy goes will teach them about enjoying sweets in moderation, making sacrifices, and to appreciate the candy they get to keep--because it's all they'll get. It benefits you too, because you'll be forced to keep your sticky fingers off of it. You best believe your child will remember every bit of candy they chose, so if you steal any they'll know (not that that ever stopped my parents).
All the Extra
So what do you do with the extra candy? Believe it or not, there are a lot of people that would welcome that candy, and you can use it as a powerful lesson for your children.
There are millions of kids without parents to take them trick or treating. While fun sized Snickers are a dime a dozen to most of us, it could mean the world to someone else. Contact local state programs that care for foster children and kids waiting to be adopted and ask if they're accepting donations. You can even hold a post-Halloween candy drive at your child's school and encourage all the parents to not only help those in need but teach their children an important message about proper nutrition and helping others.
You can also pack up the candy in a nice care package and send it to troops overseas. Programs like Operation Shoebox are perfect. You and your child can fill up a shoe box with any extra candy, and maybe even a few toiletries or a letter thanking them for their service and they will send it to a soldier deployed out of the U.S.
Long-term care facilities for the elderly and hospitals are another great resource. Make treat bags and have your child pass them out. They'll quickly learn it's always more rewarding to give than to receive.
Look, it's just candy. Sure, it might strike fear in the hearts of dieters everywhere, but put it in perspective by giving it to people that will actually enjoy it instead of sneaking it at midnight and then cursing it the next morning. Candy isn't good for you, but giving sure is.
Kelly Turner is a Seattle-based ACE-certified personal trainer and professional fitness writer. She began writing after becoming frustrated with the confusing and conflicting fitness information in the media and the quick-fix, gimmick-centered focus of the fitness industry itself. Her no-nonsense, practical advice has been featured on DietsInReview.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Yahoo! Shine, and she has a regular fitness column in The Seattle Times. Kelly has her own blog at www.kellyturnerfitness.com or follow her on Twitter @KellyTurnerFit.