Yes, It’s that time of the year again—Halloween. And, rumor has it that it will be even more festive in the New York Metropolitan area this year, after it was cancelled last year due to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. While Halloween is celebrated throughout the United States with creative costumes, parties and parades, a big part of the tradition centers around “Trick or Treating” and large bags full of super sugary candy, specially packaged for this annual event. Even though many parents do their part throughout the year limiting soda and sweets intake, and promoting more nutritious eating, all seems to fly out the window like a bat out of healthy habits during Halloween! While we want our children to enjoy the festivities and not feel left out, there are some things we can do to control the Halloween candy-mania.
Park View's Point of View
At Park View Pediatric Dentistry we always promote fun and enjoyment, but we are also big on oral health education and creating awareness on how nutrition affects the teeth at all times of the year. Many of our parents ask us for a few pointers during Halloween time on what to do with the abundance of candy coming into the home.
Here are a few ways to help control the Halloween Candy Craziness:
1. Set limits. Determining the length of time your children can go trick or treating limits the amount of candy that they will receive. Halloween is a one day holiday and we recommend that the candy received be eaten on Halloween day only. Having a plan and sticking to it will ensure success!
2. Eat a meal before Trick or Treating. The worst scenario is for a child to be hungry while Trick or Treating and want to endlessly snack on candy during their journey. Filling their bellies with a healthy meal will not make them want to overindulge as much.
3. All sweets are not created equal. Make wiser choices when it comes to choosing your own sweets for the home. Since prolonged sugar in the mouth can turn to tooth-decaying acids, sweets that take a longer time to eat (like a lollipop) are worse for your child’s teeth than those eaten quickly. Today there are also a variety of more health-oriented candies available, like sugar free lollipops, spray candies and ice pops.
4. Be creative. Switch the focus at home from Halloween candy to creative costume making or Halloween story time. Make it also a time for country apple picking and healthy squash meals. Having your own Halloween party or small get together will also give you more control over what is eaten. Throw a Halloween party with the main course being both a black bean soup and an orange butternut squash soup!
5. Drink water. We know that water helps keep your children stay hydrated, but it can also rinse sugar away from the teeth and help make children feel more full.
6. Visit your dentist. If you have not seen you dentist in over six months, this would be a great time to get back on track. At Park View Pediatric Dentistry, we even have a Halloween Candy Buy Back Program. We give children a dollar for every large zip lock bag they bring to us. We then match every dollar and give to our favorite charity, America’s Tooth Fairy, helping children with painful gum disease.
Happy Halloween. Stay safe and healthy!
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