For some parents, the most frightful thing about Halloween, aside from witches and ghosts running amok, is the buckets full of candy that trick-or-treaters haul home.
To avoid a weeks-long sugar rush, moms and dads must resort to creative ways to discreetly usher the candy out of the house. The question is, how?
When Jennifer Ehara’s middle child, Ricky, was a toddler, she learned he couldn’t have hydrogenated oil due to a food allergy. She made the decision to allow only all-natural, all-organic foods in the home. That meant a new approach to dealing with the spoils of Ray, her oldest son, in his trick-or-treating. Now, all candies containing the synthetic ingredient are removed, and the boys get what’s left over.
Last year Ehara sent nearly 20 pounds of candy with her husband to hand out at work.
Even when allergies aren’t an issue, pediatric dentist Hayley Pavlov says it’s important to keep tabs on how much is being eaten at one time.
“I definitely ration out Halloween candy at my house,” said the mother of two. “I’d rather see a kid sit down and eat a couple pieces of candy for a snack than snack on it all day long.”
She’s particularly concerned about the sticky, gummy candies, which are essentially all sugar and can stick to teeth, causing cavities.
In some cases, it might not be the parent but the child who finds a way to pace themselves.
Crystal Henry’s 3-year-old daughter, Sunny, unintentionally discovered a unique way to deplete her stash last year.
Henry said first, she and her husband clear out all dairy-laden treats from the candy bucket (Sunny’s allergic). Caramels, chocolates and anything else Henry can use in holiday baking gets stashed away in the kitchen. What’s left over gets placed by the front door.
After Halloween last year, when Henry went outside to get the mail, she said Sunny would run outside and around to the front door, and ring the doorbell. Henry would open the door, and Sunny (unable to say trick-or-treat) would say “Chicken treat! ... Can I come in?”
Sunny then would come in and say, “Oh, nice house! Can I have some candy?” And she’d get one piece of candy from the bucket.
“She did that every day for months,” Henry said. “Then it got to be winter and freezing cold out, so I had to make sure she was properly dressed when I’d go get the mail, because she was going to run to the front door.”
Amber Wallace of Columbus removes choking hazards, such as gum and large suckers out of 3-year-old daughter Grace’s candy bucket and puts them out of sight so she doesn’t miss them.
“We live in a neighborhood where there’s older kids,” Wallace said. “So sometimes, I’ll give it to them. I may also go ask parents at The Commons if their kids have been good and, if so, give it to them.”
Melinda Mudd’s sons Barrett, 7, and Griffen, 4, pick out their favorites, and toss the rest. What the boys pick to keep gets put in the pantry, and they’re allowed one piece a day at snack time.
“It’s the way we’ve always done it,” Mudd said. “The boys don’t argue. They know that’s how it is.”
Another alternative is donation. Charitable organizations, including Love Chapel and the Ronald McDonald House, regularly accept candy contributions.
The 3rd annual Candy Buy Back, organized by Columbus Pediatric Dentistry, also takes place at Imagination Station on Halloween night.
It’s important for parents to be in charge of the candy, Columbus dentist Christopher Bartels said. If kids are allowed to take the candy and munch on it as they please, they can make themselves sick, he said.
“Give the children candy as a reward,” Bartels said. “Not only is this a great way to spread out the amount of candy they eat, but you still get good behavior.”
Leaving a small present, such as a toy or book, in place of the candy is a technique he’s successfully used with his daughters, Cora, 3, and Evelyn, 1.
Use candy as incentive to encourage healthy eating habits, Pavlov suggested. Before a child gets a piece of candy, he must finish his fruits and vegetables.
Whether you use incentives, rewards or substitutes, find a creative way to “keep those sugar bugs at bay while still enjoying a great Halloween treat,” Bartels said.
At a glance
What: 3rd annual Candy Buy Back, organized by Columbus Pediatric Dentistry
When: 7 to 9 p.m. today
Where: Imagination Station, 315 Washington St.
Bring your extra Halloween candy and sell it for $2 per pound. All collected candy will be donated to the United Service Organizations, Inc. at Camp Atterbury for the troops.
292 Center St.
9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday
Ronald McDonald House
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
435 Limestone St., Indianapolis
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