Q: What is the nutritional impact of sugary Halloween treats on my kids?

A: Overdosing on huge quantities of sugary, empty-calorie junk food—for the few days post-Halloween—will not harm your kids except perhaps to give them a stomach ache, reinforce poor eating habits and contribute to a few dental caries.

While I certainly think it would be wiser for parents to put the brakes on the amount of Halloween candy their kids eat, a little candy excess for a day or two will not have real lasting effects.

That said, with today’s obesity epidemic among our nation’s children, parents must emphasize a healthy lifestyle, meaning teaching children the value of good eating habits and daily exercise.

The best way to teach kids healthy eating habits is to provide nutritious meals and snacks in the home, and lobby for healthier foods and daily PE at schools. Sugary, high-calorie Halloween candy is not a nutritious snack food and should be limited in your child’s diet and replaced on a daily basis with healthier snack options such as low-calorie popcorn, cut up fruit and vegetables, or yogurt.

When it comes to Halloween, moderation and control are key. Parents should take charge of their kids’ candy loot. Here are some Halloween survival tips:

-Make sure you know the people who are giving your children candy.
-Once your kids bring home the candy, check that the wrapper on the candy is sealed and unbroken.
-Have your children sort out their candy, choosing only their favorites. (The rest give away or even throw away.)
-Take the candy and put it somewhere where you can control your kids’ intake.
-Allow your children a few pieces a day of their candy loot for just a few days, and then get it out of the house!
-Junk food should not be a dietary staple for kids but only an occasional treat.

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