Soon it will be Halloween, one of the few days of the year (think Valentine’s Day and Easter as well) when kids (and us kids at heart) can gorge on candy and other sweets and not worry about what others will think or say. Everyone’s doing it! It really is supposed to be a one-day thing, but between parties at school, trick or treating on October 31 and munching on store-bought candy in the days leading up and then properly ‘disposing’ of leftover sweets in the days that follow, well, it just turns into one long marathon sugar rush.
By the way, this concerns adults as much as it does kids.
There are health considerations relative to the caloric sins brought on by lingering cases of sweet tooth, and it’s not just waistlines at stake here. Ingestion of a lot of sugar over time – warning: working through a large bag of trick-or-treat candy can start a binge habit hard to break – can also be detrimental to our teeth. It’s a double-edged sword of sweets – calories and cavities.
Here are some tell-tale statistics about Halloween and all that candy, man, for parents to chew on before sending their costumed kids out to bring home a honeyed haul. These were sourced at dailyburn.com:
- 41 million potential trick-or-treaters ages 5-14 in the U.S.
- 35 million pounds of candy corn manufactured for the Halloween season (seriously, who really eats that stuff?)
- 540 push-ups to burn off an Apple Cider donut (330 calories)
- 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of candy , on average collected by each trick-or-treater on Halloween night
- 41 percent of children ages 2-11 already have at least one cavity
Counting calories? Here are some calorie counts for some popular choices of sweets typically found in the goodies bag: 1 Butterfinger Mini (96 calories), 2 Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (86), 4 Tootsie Roll Midgees (93) and 9 Starburst Fruit Chews (90). And, oh yeah, 13 of those scrumptious Candy Corns will deliver 95 calories your ‘weigh.’
If it’s grams of sugar that get your attention, the U.S. Heart Association recommends, according to the Huffington Post, that children consume no more than 3 to 8 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Each teaspoon equals about 4 grams of sugar. Do the math, and that’s a limit of 12 to 32 grams of added sugar a day. By themselves, 19 Candy Corns combined contain 28 grams of sugar. There’s your daily quota of sugar right there. Now multiply that by however many dozens of candy units is in that bag of candy that comes home Halloween night, and you can see trouble brewing.
Following are some measures you, as parents or guardians, can take to help prepare for and fend off the candy-coated horrors of Halloween. Remember, some of these apply to you sweet-tooth grownups as well:
- Be sure to feed children a full meal before they go trick or treating. This should help them cut down on eating candy as they go or overindulge when they get home an hour or two later.
- Insist your children go trick or treating with a modest-sized bag or other container, certainly not a pillowcase (who in their right mind does that?).
- Whatever candy is left over in your bowl by the front door, toss it, or give it away. Just get it out of your house and your reach---that’s right; your reach as well as your kids’.
- Avoid the aisle at the grocery store that has half-priced Halloween candy starting the next day.
- Monitor your children’s candy intake, set limits, and use it as an opportunity to teach them about proper brushing and flossing of their teeth.
- Make it a year-round rule that whenever your child wants to eat a predetermined amount of candy, he or she must eat an apple or some other fruit or vegetable at the same time. Again, consider the bigger picture here of developing good dietary habits 365/24/7.
- Along with that, when giving out stuff to the pirates and goblins who ring your doorbell, consider giving them substitutes such as 100-percent juice boxes, mini-boxes of raisins, sugar-free chewing gum, squeezable yogurt tubes. A few visiting kids might see this as Halloween’s equivalent of a lump of coal in the Christmas stocking; so be it.
- Make arrangements with your child or children to buy back some or all of their collected calories. Money is the universal pacifier. But . . . bribery?! Definitely. It’s for their good, too.
- Be a good role model--practice what you preach, and that includes brushing and flossing.
- Preach moderation, again and again.