Advancing Children's Health

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Controlling those candy cravings – Halloween edition

Published by , on Oct 29, 2015

by Kelli George, Dietetic Intern
Reviewed by Ashley Cappel, Registered Dietitian, CHoR’s Healthy Lifestyles Center

Quick – name the first three things that come to mind when you think of Halloween!


Candy, pumpkins, and……candy.

Our kids look forward to Halloween each year because they get to dress up in a fun costume and eat all of the candy they can find within arm’s reach. No one enjoys saying no to their little one, but candy is just, well, not good for us! So when they come home with that plastic pumpkin full of candy, what do we do?

Here are a few great tips to get you started:

Children in halloween costumes


Feed your kids a nice dinner before trick or treating. That way they won’t feel hungry enough to overindulge on candy.


For other trick or treaters, buy the candy that your family doesn’t like! If there is leftover candy, no one will be tempted to eat it.

Have a “candy” plan ahead of time. Allow an opportunity for them to eat more on the first night, but set up a plan for clear boundaries after Halloween. Whether it is two pieces per day or two pieces after dinner, create a defined approach once Halloween is over.

Make sure kids drink plenty of water. Not only is it good for hydration, but in between the morning and night tooth brushing it can help rinse all that sugar off of their teeth! At least five 8-ounce cups per day is recommended for young children (ages 4-8) and the recommended amounts increase as children get older.

Be a good role model. If the kids are not allowed to eat 10 pieces of candy at a time, don’t do it yourself! They will feel more comfortable in their choices when it doesn’t differ from yours.

Stop before you pop. Be mindful of portions as well as fullness cues. Enjoy a little sweet treat – just make sure no one is eating their candy stash to the point where they are going to be sick! Kids naturally have more reliable fullness cues to help them know when it’s time to stop. Encourage them to listen to this by asking them if their tummy is telling them that they need more or if it is something else. Make sure they are not eating too quickly so their body can tell them when to stop.

Think outside the wrapper. Just because you have a bucket full of candy does not mean you and your children have to eat it all! Exchanging candy for books, making trail mix using candy, and building a “candy city” are among the 15 creative ways the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using leftover candy.

Out of sight – out of mind. Where is the Halloween stash stored? If it is stored in the child’s room it will be too much of a temptation for them. Choose a location out of everyday sight, but don’t attempt to hide the candy – that will just create a game for your child where the prize is a tummy full of half of their candy stash!

And most importantly, don’t stress! We are all human and we all have sweet needs. When you can, you can choose the lesser of two evils with choices like Tootsie Rolls, Smarties or a Peppermint Pattie. These choices are all lower in fat and calories than most other candy that you will see this time of the year.

Crunching the (candy) numbers


In order to burn off approximately 100 calories, the average person would have to go the distance of about 1 mile. When you cross the length of one football, you are burning approximately the equivalent of 1 M&M! This might make you think twice about choosing that extra fun size bar during the holidays. Check out how many football you would need to walk to use those calories from some of your favorite treats.

candy football field graphic - small

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