The Dangers of Leftover Candy

The Dangers of Leftover Candy

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Trick-or-treating is the pinnacle of Halloween for most kids. Sure, they get to carve pumpkins, strut around in a killer Halloween costume, and help decorate the house with some appropriate spooky decor, but the golden prize is the bag of candy after a long night of trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.  

Of course, as parents, we realize that this time of year is also the worst for our kids’ health. While it is important for your kids to let loose and indulge every now and then, October (and the following months) can lead to a sweet and sugar overload.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can help your child have a healthier Halloween — without turning you into the bad guy.

The Dangers of Leftover Candy

Halloween: A Dentist’s Worst Nightmare

As much as we all love Halloween, the majority of us do not like trips to the dentist. Given the amount of candy, caramel apples, and pumpkin-flavored everything kids consume during these few weeks, their teeth and mouth end up taking some major damage. In lieu of confiscating their bag of candy entirely, try some of these dentist-approved tips and tricks instead:

  1. Timing: Kids should eat their Halloween treats with meals or shortly after meals. Saliva production increases during meals, which can help rinse away food particles.
  2. Snack Smart: When snacking in between meals, sugary snacks aren’t a great choice (especially with all the additional Halloween candy). Try cutting down on your sweet snack intact to improve oral health.
  3. Be Picky: Hard candies and other sweets that sit in your mouth for long periods of time can be harmful. The length of time a sugary sweet is in the mouth can contribute to tooth decay. Sugar-free candy is also a good option.
  4. Avoid Sticky Sweets: Candies like taffy and gummies stick to teeth and take longer to wash away, which can lead to higher risk of tooth decay.
  5. Increase Water Intake: Drinking more water can prevent tooth decay. Try one glass of water for every piece of candy.
  6. Maintain Healthy Brushing and Flossing Habits: This might seem obvious but is especially important during these sugar-filled weeks. Oral healthy habits make a big difference in dental hygiene.

Your kids will probably still groan and whine, but it’s all about balance, right? They get to keep their candy loot and their teeth.

The Dangers of Leftover Candy

Building a Strong Foundation

Beyond the immediate consequences of too many sweets, it’s equally important to keep in mind the long-term health issues with excessive treats (Halloween or not). As parents, we know the importance of teaching our kids healthy habits that they can take with them once they leave the nest. Teaching the importance of self-care while they’re young can help them make better decisions, reducing the chances of developing diabetes and heart disease, and encourage them to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

These days, many U.S. children are battling obesity, and according to Ohio State University, focusing on the prevention of these issues is key to our children’s health. They explain, “Physicians are also doing their best to provide parents with information regarding kids’ health and proper development. Parents now know how important exercise is for a kid’s development. Studies show that this helps prevent obesity and even diabetes, though these are just some of the benefits.” The idea is it’s okay to let our kids enjoy special holidays, treats and all, but to parallel them with moderation and exercise.

Games are a great way to help kids have fun, burn off some energy, and cherish that sweet, sweet reward more. Bobbing for apples is a classic, healthier Halloween tradition, or you could try having a pumpkin toss (just be careful!). You can also always try coming up with your own Halloween game, like inviting their friends over for a scavenger hunt (much like an Easter egg hunt) and scatter candy all over the house or yard.

If your kids are older, try burying some candy with coins around the yard and equip them with a fancy metal detector (so you don’t end up with a bunch of holes everywhere). It might seem excessive, but you’ll create lifelong memories and foster important healthy habits like exercising regularly, which can help ensure your kids enjoy many more Halloweens to come.


Knowledge Is Power

Explain to your kids how sugar (the artificial kind) sticks to their insides much like it does to their teeth. Or explain why their stomach hurts after too much chocolate. You don’t have to get too in-depth with all the details, but a lot of the times kids just want and need an explanation beyond, “because I said so.” If you can help them understand why it’s unhealthy to have a candy bar morning, noon, and night, then they’ll be able to process and execute future decisions better.

Beyond the simple explanation that candy is bad, try explaining that a poor diet and not enough exercise can be just as bad as smoking (yes, really). Teaching them that we are in charge of our bodies can give them that important understanding of responsibility and better comprehend our duty to take care of the only body we have. It might seem silly going to all this work and explanation over Halloween candy, but showing kids how to enjoy Halloween in a healthy way really helps their future as adults (when you’re no longer there to tell them no).

What are your thoughts?  Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.

Until next time, shine amongst the stars!

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The Dangers of Leftover Candy

The Dangers of Leftover Candy

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