Halloween is only days away. You are happily preparing for the night, hanging ghosts, bats and spider webs, planting cemeteries in your front yard and carving jack-o’-lanterns. Your MP3 player is equipped with songs that will eerily haunt the evening, and you have had your costume, not to mention your children’s, picked out for months. You are ready for a night of terror. However, what you may not realize is that the real horrors lie, not in Halloween, but in the days that follow.
Your children will return home with bags of goodies, which will quickly blend with your leftovers – the bars and boxes your neighbors couldn’t fit into their sacks. You will have, within seconds, a gluttonous amount of sweets. The kids will eye the piles of candy greedily, pouncing on them the moment your back is turned and devouring everything they can. Should any remain after that night, your children will spend the next several days sugar-obsessed, until they have efficiently consumed every last ounce of confection. Your months of healthy eating habits will be disposed of along with the mounds of wrappers, unless, of course, you take the time before Halloween to ensure that the holiday is a happy yet healthy one.
It all starts with your trip to the store. The treats you buy to give out will inevitably work their way into your own children’s hands. So, purchase wisely. You don’t have to buy candy (blasphemous as the thought is). Stickers, erasers, rings and pencils are popular non-edible options. If you want something edible but not sweet, look for packets of sunflower seeds, raisins, cashews, baked chips and crackers. If you do buy candy, keep it kid-size. King-size sweets may make you popular the night of, but they aren’t even close to necessary. You could also go the evil route of my mother, and buy candy you know your children won’t eat. That way post-Halloween temptation will be null and void, at least the kind you provide.
But, then, there are the neighbors. You can’t control what they buy, so your kids will most certainly return home with a bagful of sugar. The only way to combat the subsequent candy-high is to talk to your children beforehand. Lay out the rules of the holiday. Talk about how much they can eat that night and how much they can eat on the following nights. Divide their treasure into individual servings, taking away the opportunity to over-indulge. But don’t be too strict. This is a holiday. A little leniency is okay. Besides, this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how sweets can be worked into a healthy, balanced diet. You want to teach them that consumption is about eating what you enjoy in moderation not depriving yourself of all things tasty. Then, as your kids are savoring their nightly allotment, open one up for yourself. Sit back, relax, enjoy and have a happy Halloween.