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Halloween treats fine in moderation

October 27, 2011

By OSU Extension Service

Costumes have filled the racks and bags of candy line the shelves. Children all over Oklahoma are trying to figure out what to dress up as for Halloween. In addition, children have visions of a trick-or-treat bag stuffed with sugary, sticky and sweet treats.

While the children are excited about trick-or-treating, many parents may be wondering how all of this candy will fit into a nutritious diet, said Deana Hildebrand, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist.

“Before the big day arrives, discuss with your children how you plan to deal with the overload of candy they’re sure to bring home. Between school parties, town-sponsored activities and trick-or-treating itself, kids will most likely bring home more treats than they could possibly eat,” Hildebrand said. “Moderation is the key. Loading up on candy between meals can replace more healthful foods at meal time and also increases risk for dental decay. It’s also a good idea not to eat any treats while out trick-or-treating. Parents should inspect all of the candy before any of it is consumed.”

To help curb your children’s consumption of treats, make sure they have a healthy snack before they leave the house to trick-or-treat. Kids who are not hungry are less likely to splurge on the candy when they return home.

“Parents may want to consider allowing their children a day or two to enjoy the Halloween candy, then dividing it into daily servings and letting their children pick out what they want once each day,” she said.

Another idea is if your children receive a lot of miniature chocolate bars, consider freezing them and using them in recipes containing chocolate chips for upcoming holiday baking. To extend the Halloween fun, include the children in the baking activities.

“If you prefer not to hand out any candy, consider other alternatives such as sunflower seeds or small bags of pretzels or microwave popcorn,” Hildebrand said. “Pencils, colorful erasers, trading cards or stickers also make fun alternatives to sweet treats. Just remember that a little bit of Halloween candy isn’t such a bad thing as long as limits are set.”

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