Manage Halloween Candy Stashes

Posted: October 30, 2012

Many trick-or-treaters will be out this week gathering lots of Halloween goodies...

While children are excited to receive a large array of holiday treats, it can present a challenge for parents who are concerned about limiting the amount of sweets their child consumes.

     Below are some tips for managing your child’s candy stash from Karen Blakeslee, Kansas State University Research and Extension Rapid Response Coordinator.

     * Provide a sandwich or light meal before a child goes trick-or-treating. If hunger is satisfied, a child will be less likely to sample candy away from home.

     * Keep trick-or-treat outings short to cut down on the amount of candy children bring home.
     * Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has examined them carefully for evidence of tampering.
     * Once home, help a child sort treats. Wash fresh fruit, and look it over for pinholes, cuts or any atypical damage; check candy wrappers to see if they are intact, and discard loose candy or anything else that looks suspect. A familiar food safety rule applies: When in doubt, throw it out.
     * Plan, together with your children, how the candy cache can be enjoyed. Halloween bags usually provide enough goodies for two to three weeks. Encourage kids to pick a favorite treat or two for each day of the coming week. Divide the remaining treats into weekly portions, place in bags and store for the next weeks. Suggest eating one or two pieces a day at snack time or with meals.

     To help reduce the amount of sweets young children receive, offer non-food treats to your treat-or treaters. They are healthier and equally enjoyed by children. Many non-food Halloween favors such as stickers, note pads, pencils, erasers, and coupons to food establishments are available for purchase. Another healthier alternative you may consider giving are non-sweet treats like cheese and cracker packages, sugarfree gum, individually wrapped sticks of beef jerky, juice box packages, small bags of pretzels, small packages of nuts or raisins, and packets of instant cocoa mix.

Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County.