Sweet Strategies for a Healthy Halloween

Kids in Halloween costumes

Halloween is around the corner and with it comes all the excitement of costumes, parties and of course, candy!  We spoke to Cindy Zedeck, MA, program director at Stanford Children’s Health Pediatric Weight Control Program about how to manage sugar-overload while still having a fun and festive holiday.

Cindy and her team have compiled some tried and true tips below. Which one(s) might work for you?:

  • Try to emphasize the fun of trick-or-treating, rather than the subsequent feast.
  • Consider buying your candy until a day or two before you hand it out. Or buy candy that you and your children don’t like to make it less tempting to eat it before the doorbell rings on October 31.
  • Instead of candy, some parents hand out fun items like spider rings, pretzels, stickers and temporary tattoos.
  • When the trick-or-treating is over, have your kid(s) pick out their favorites, and allow them a certain number to keep and give the rest away.
  • Some dentists will buy back kids’ candy. Find out here where some local buyback programs are around the Bay Area. Your surplus candy will then be sent as care packages to our troops overseas.
  • Another popular approach is the “Switch Witch” tradition. Kids place their extra candy on the doorstep and it is whisked away to other kids in need while in its place is a toy or gift.

For children as well as adults, it’s vital to learn moderation and the skill of making healthy choices. Research shows that kids don’t simply “outgrow” the urge to eat unhealthily if they don’t possess the tools to do so. Look at this Halloween as an excellent opportunity for parents to teach and model healthy choices, at holidays and beyond.

The Pediatric Weight Control Program is part of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford’s Center for Healthy Weight. It is a family-based, group behavioral and educational program, which teaches lifelong healthy eating and exercise habits for overweight children, adolescents and their families.

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