When you trick or treat for Halloween, do you sneak some of the kids' candy for yourself? Maybe you dip into the supply of Reese's Pieces you bought to "give away." Or maybe you sample some of the sweets your kids collect. You don't mean to do it. Honest. But every year you find yourself saying, "Oops, I did it again. I ate the Halloween candy!"
You could avoid temptation by not giving out any treats. But do you want to be the Halloween Grinch? Nah. So to find out how you (and I) can be part of the holiday without getting a Peppermint Patty belly, I talked with registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, author of Read It Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food Labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time. Excerpts:
What's best way to avoid eating the candy you buy to give out on October 31?
If you seriously are buying candy for the trick or treater, put it in a bag or a box that you can't see, and put it away. Don't take it out before Halloween. [Otherwise], before you know it, you'll need to get new bags.
Should you wait until Halloween day to buy your goodies?
That's probably unrealistic. Halloween this year is on a Wednesday. People shop on the weekend, and they're afraid of the stores running out.
Should you buy giveaway candy that you don't like?
That would be great. [But] a lot of the people I see, there's not that much they don't like! Another thing is making sure what you buy is in those little individual-size packets. Not only individual, but mini.
With mini packets, you'll think twice each time you rip open another bag?
What's the best way to prevent yourself from eating your kids' supply of candy after they return with a bag full of treats?
There are three important words to remember. Those three important words are it's not mine. Think about which candy you really would like. Buy it for yourself. On Halloween, have it. It's what I call low light, soft music food. Enjoy it when you can really taste the texture. Is it creamy? Is it crunchy? Have it when you can really appreciate that candy bar. Don't have 10 while you're answering the door. Buy the one you like and sit down and take the time to enjoy it.
Would it help to read the label and be horrified?
You know how I love label reading. In this case, I doubt if label reading is big on the to-do list.
Is Halloween a dietitian's worst-nightmare holiday?
Halloween is up there. Easter is a biggie, too. The Peeps! I have three kids [now 25, 22, and 17]. I used to actually love going trick or treating with them. It was the one time of year I got to wear a costume, even as an adult.
Should you look at your kids' stash, regardless of their ages?
Go through it with them to make sure everything in there is safe and closed. We used to go through the candy bags and have different piles. One pile was pure junk. Pure junk usually went right to the trash. Those were things that were totally sugary, like Smarties, just pure sugar. Something like a dark chocolate bar, they kept. At least it was good and wasn't pure sugar. Something like that, maybe even something that had dried fruit and nuts in it. We picked maybe two or three things they liked, and we put the bags away. After a few days, they didn't even ask for the bags. If you leave it out on the counter, then it glitters.
So put the candy bag out of sight?
I put it in the cabinet. High up.
Then it's a big effort to get it.
Exactly. My middle son is 6-4, but at that point he wasn't..
You're not trick or treating any more?
No more trick or treating. I miss it terribly. Not the candy, but the experience.
Should you give out a treat other than sweets?
I tell some patients who really should not be having candy in their homes to go to the bank and get a roll of coins and give kids money when they come to their house. As a kid I used to love to get money. Then I could go out and buy what I really wanted. I once put out a big basket of pennies. I just put a note on it, "Take a few." I drove away and forgot something and came back, and the whole basket was gone! You can also give out little toys, like a dentist's office.
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