Halloween Candy Limits and Swaps

10 ways to keep kids from eating too much Halloween candy

Trick-or-treating is fun and a treasured tradition for many families and communities. But no child needs to eat five pounds of Halloween candy this October 31! Limit the loot without spoiling the fun.

Save only the most special Halloween candy.

Sharing a Halloween family moment
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Set a limit ahead of time and have kids choose a select number of pieces of candy--say, two to three pieces for each year of their age--to keep. Donate or trash the rest, and make healthier items (popcorn, dehydrated fruit) freebies.

Banish the pillowcase.

Send trick-or-treaters out with a smaller loot bag, and they'll collect less candy. Make littler sacks more attractive by having kids decorate them with stickers and markers, or even sew their own.

Dole it out slowly.

Allow kids to eat one or two pieces of Halloween candy per day. Most will forget about the stash after a week or two.

Plan a visit from the Halloween Witch.

Tell your kids a tall tale about the Halloween Witch (or fairy). Like her cousin the Tooth Fairy, she sneaks in on the night of October 31 to spirit away candy--and leave a special toy or other gift in its place.

Buy them out with cold, hard cash.

Set a nominal price, say 5 or 10 cents each, for Halloween candy and buy it back from your youngster. (If your child is good at loopholes, you may have to stipulate that her earnings can't be used to buy more candy!)

Set up a Halloween candy swap shop.

This works well for younger children. Play store with them, using Halloween candy as currency and healthier treats as merchandise. Kids can use chocolate bars and lollipops to purchase animal crackers, sugar-free gum, natural fruit leathers, and so on.

Eat, then treat.

Establish a rule that if they want to eat a piece of candy, kids must have a nutritious snack first. This encourages them to eat more healthy foods and leave less room in their bellies for the junk.

Offset with exercise.

Encourage, or require, kids to add extra physical activity when they eat candy--anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on their age, size, and fitness level.

Donate Halloween candy to a cause.

What to do with all this candy you're confiscating or acquiring from your trick-or-treaters? Look for a donation site in your area. Some dentists' offices and veterans' groups collect Halloween candy and ship it to U.S. troops overseas. An appeal to this good cause may even inspire kids to turn over their loot voluntarily.

Cook up a post-Halloween treat.

Designate some of your family's Halloween candy stash for baking and other recipes (but be sure to share what you make with friends and neighbors instead of eating it all yourselves). Chocolaty treats can be chopped up and swirled into cookie dough, and hard candy can be crushed to make a colorful topping for baked goodies. Almost any kind of candy will also look great adorning a gingerbread house!

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