by Dr. Madhu Mathur, MD, MPH, the Pediatrician and Obesity Medicine Physician, Lifestyle Medicine Center
Halloween is highly anticipated this year. I think because it is a return to fun, and celebrating outside after being cooped up at home. That means even more temptation for your kids to eat far more candy than you’d like them to. But, there are measures you can take before you go out trick or treating to prepare your child to stick to a plan and resist the temptation to eat their entire bag of candy.
In the days before Halloween, ask your children what they want from Halloween. If they say candy, ask them if it would be okay if you all stay home and you provide them the candy. Of course they will say no to that because they want to see their friends and neighbors, they want to dress up like Elsa or Batman, they want to go trick-or-treating, and then, after the work, they want their candy. By asking them this and having a follow up conversation with them, you will help them realize and appreciate all the parts of Halloween that they can look forward to (not just the candy)!
Have a conversation with your kids about what they will do with all that candy they collect. We’ve all seen little kids struggling with giant pillowcases full of candy, and watch out if you try to take it away from them!
However, children can be reasonable too. If you limit the amount of candy they have in daily life, they understand and respect the idea of limits. Ask them what they think is reasonable. Let them write down how many they should eat each day and how many days they should have candy. I suggest to my patients that they have 3 candies on day 1, 3 candies day 2, and 2 on day 3, 2 on day 4 and 1 on day 5. You might buy the remaining candy for say, $5. The candy should then be given to a good cause. Most dentists are happy to collect donations of candy for the Marines, or someplace else.
On the big day, make sure children have eaten dinner or a nice snack, before they go out trick-or-treating. Bring along water. If they skip dinner, then all that walking will make them hungry and the candy will be irresistible.
Don’t let children go out unsupervised. Make sure the candy is wrapped and untampered and of a brand you recognize. Stick around and only collect from houses of families you know.
Let’s keep the culture of Halloween and make it safe fun! Happy Halloween!
Madhu Mathur, MD, MPH, is one of Connecticut’s first certified obesity medicine physicians as well as an experienced pediatrician. She specializes in treating children with excess weight and nutrition issues at Lifestyle Medicine Center in Stamford. She excels in working with the child and parent to bring about changes that have a lasting impact.