Halloween kicks off the season of sweets and that big candy haul can quickly lead to a sugar overload for the kids (and you!). But there’s no need to dump the whole bag of Halloween candy out. With a little creativity you can find a balance between having fun and staying healthy. Here's some clever ways to minimize the sugar binge:
Try It: The Switch Witch
In a similar vein as the Elf On A Shelf, you can invite the Switch Witch into your home for the month of October. She will diligently watch over everyone for good behavior and then at the end of the month, kids can offer her up their Halloween haul in exchange for a healthier reward. Anything from a toy your tot has been eyeballing, to a fun family activity can make a great treat for saying goodbye to the sugar fix.
Put It Into Action: You don’t even have to invest money in purchasing a Switch Witch, you can go the old-fashioned route and call in the "Candy Fairy", who operates just like the Tooth Fairy, to get the job done. For older kids, who might not believe in fairies anymore (yes, that sad day will come) you can simply offer up a barter and let them trade-in the candy for a gift card or something they’ve been wanting.
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Try It: A Halloween Buy Back
Trading in Halloween candy can also be a great lesson in helping others. With programs, like Halloween Buy Back, you can minimize the sugar load and give back to the troops at the same time. It’s a win-win. For every pound of candy donated, your child will receive a dollar in return. The candy will then be sent off in care packages as a sweet treat for troops overseas.
Put It Into Action: Discuss the idea of donating candy before Halloween so you have a plan in place and it will be much easier for your child to give up the sweets. You can also give back on a larger scale by organizing your child’s classroom, school, or even a scouting troop to donate candy as a group.
Try It: Get Crafty!
Candy doesn’t have to be eaten to be enjoyed. Put all that candy to good use by repurposing it in craft projects for kids. Besides cutting down the sugar intake, reusing the candy rather than throwing it away gives kids a great lesson in the importance of recycling and minimizing waste.
Put It Into Action: Use small pieces, like M&Ms and Smarties, to create candy art collages. Glue colorful wrapped candies onto a cardboard ring to make a candy wreath. Use candy that comes in interesting shapes, like Halloween Peeps, as stamps to create patterns. You can even reuse the wrappers as craft supplies. Wrappers can be rolled up to create small beads or weaved into paper bracelets. Another option is to save pieces to decorate a gingerbread house, or to fill the slots on a DIY countdown calendar for the holidays.
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Try It: Portion Control
The key to teaching kids how to make healthy choices is by striking a balance. Rather than eradicating all the candy, keep some and parcel it out. Restricting all sugar can end up backfiring and making kids crave it more. Instead, allow an occasional sweet, but use it as an opportunity talk to your child about the importance of moderation and why candy is only a treat and a sometimes food.
Put It Into Action: When you sort through the trick-or-treat basket, keep only the candy your child actually likes. Store the candy you decide to keep in a jar inside a cabinet or on the kitchen counter so that you know exactly what is being taken out and when. Set up firm rules about how many sweets are allowed and how often your child can have them.
No matter how you choose to minimize sugar at Halloween, use the opportunity to teach kids more about why sugar and candy aren't healthy. Setting up a solid foundation of healthy eating at an early age will help kids continue to stick with a healthy diet as they grow up.
WATCH on Z Living: Now Eat This!, where renowned chef Rocco DiSpirito challenges people to eat healthy by arming them with nutritious recipes and ingredients and giving instruction on proper ways to prepare the meals. See a sneak peek here.
Tell us in the comments: How will you cut down on sugar this Halloween?