Halloween Survival Guide
Halloween is coming and that usually means a big increase in how much sugar our kids are eating. (And I don't know about your house, but the kids aren't the only ones that get into the Halloween candy around here!)
Obviously, the ideal amount of candy for kids (and kids-at-heart) is NO candy. But this is not the time to play the hard cop. Here are some tips and strategies for allowing everyone to enjoy the holiday while containing the damage.
Don't let your kids start eating the candy they collect while they are still out trick or treating. If they're eager to get home to have a piece of candy, they might be willing to stop with a slightly smaller payload.
Set (and enforce) limits on how much candy may be eaten each day and when (i.e., only after meals).
Halloween candy should be enjoyed instead of and not in addition to other sweets that the kids might otherwise have. Limit other sources of sugar such as sodas and sweetened drinks, sugary breakfast cereals, cookies, and desserts, while the Halloween candy is around.
The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugars to 10% of total calories. For a 90-pound 11-year-old, that's about 50 grams of sugar per day. For a 40-pound six-year-old, it's closer to 25 grams of sugar.
You can look up the amount of sugar or calories in most popular candy brands using our nutrient search tool. You'll notice that the candies that are lowest in calories are not necessarily the lowest in sugar. Candies with peanuts or other nuts, for example, are higher in calories but lower in sugar (more of the calories come from protein and fat).
By the way, although they are low in sugar and calories, I don't recommend giving sugar-free ("diabetic") candy to kids...the sugar alcohols can cause diarrhea, especially they you eat too much.
Candies that are lower in sugar (less than 20 g per "fun size" serving):
Hershey's Reeses Sticks
Chocolate covered peanuts
Hershey's Chocolate Almond Bites
Candies that are lower in calories (less than 100 calories per "fun size" serving):
York Peppermint Patty
Are there any candies that are both low in sugar AND low in calories?
The best option I could find were CocoaVia brand chocolates. Their bars and bites (with various fruits and nuts) are a bit lower in sugar and calories than most similar candy bars. Plus, they are extra high in those flavonoids that make chocolate so good for you. Unfortunately, they're not cheap.
Helping your kids enjoy the holiday in moderation is probably your best bet.