How to Trick the Kiddos into Curbing their Treat Intake

‚ôꬆThis is Halloween. This is Halloween. This is Halloween.¬†‚ôę

Well…as of tomorrow, anyway.

This bewitching occasion for both the young and young-at-heart is marked by ghosts and goblins, pirates and princesses, superheroes and starlets traipsing around¬†the block together, chanting that quintessential phrase — “trick-or-treat!”

Undoubtedly, Halloween represents a childhood rite-of-passage, filled with excitement, fantasy, mischief…

And, of course, sugar.

Otherwise known as the kids’ main motivation for dressing up.¬†That haul¬†of Skittles, Twizzlers and Milky Ways, which they‚Äôll triumphantly drag home then ceremoniously dump on¬†the kitchen floor, might just be their favorite part of the whole evening. But, as a parent, excessive candy consumption is likely¬†your¬†biggest complaint.

So, how can you keep your children from wolfing down unhealthy amounts of refined sugar without squelching their innocent fun? These pointers will do the trick! (See what I did there?)

halloween treats without the tricks

1. ¬† Sort the¬†pieces of candy into small piles (about four–five apiece) and transfer¬†each grouping into a snack-sized Ziploc bag. Store these bags out of¬†reach until the weekend. Then, give your kids a sweet treat to enjoy on¬†Friday movie night, or pass out individual ‚Äúgoodie bags‚ÄĚ during¬†their Saturday sleepover. If you¬†associate candy with special occasions, they won‚Äôt crave the cavity-causing sugar on a daily basis.

2. ¬† Start¬†a rewards system, so candy becomes a sweet incentive rather than TV-watching ‚Äújunk food.‚ÄĚ Let‚Äôs say your kids received stellar report cards in the classroom, or completed their chore charts with minimal protest.¬†Recognize these achievements by handing over a¬†chocolate bar as positive reinforcement. Use the¬†treats¬†to motivate exemplary¬†behavior —¬†both at home and school.

3.   Combine a handful of candy with healthy snack alternatives. Add M&Ms to pistachios, pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes for a wholesome trail mix. Bake dark chocolate into zucchini bread, or serve alongside sliced apples and almond butter. Drizzle melted caramel chews over whole-grain oatmeal or poached pears. Therefore, kids can satisfy that sweet tooth, while you sneak nutrients in their diet.

4. ¬†¬†Avoid stockpiling the Halloween candy stash over a long period. Cut down on those trick-or-treating leftovers by purging your house after a couple weeks. Surprise co-workers with a peppermint jar¬†in the break room. Include Hershey squares in care packages for a neighbor or the¬†kids’ teachers. Sweeten up holiday get-togethers¬†with party favors for each guest. Chances are, as the Halloween novelty wears off, your little ones won’t even notice the missing candy right away.

Of course,¬†sugary indulgence is part of childhood, so I’m not suggesting you deny them altogether. Parents should encourage kids to be‚Ķwell, kids.¬†The key word is MODERATION.

Provided your children aren’t¬†over-stuffing themselves on Halloween goodies, there’s no reason to micromanage. Simply offset those empty calories by serving balanced nutrition at meal times.

After all, even the youngsters will probably concede¬†that fresh vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains are more substantial¬†in the long-run than a temporary sugar high or quick-fix craving.¬†So, let ’em¬†have their thrills. Just make sure it‚Äôs within predetermined boundaries.

happy halloween