With Halloween on the way, parents are finding ways to keep their kids from going overboard with a sugar rush.
Valerie McColgan has a unique way of controlling how much Halloween candy her 4-year-old daughter eats.
“Her father ends up hiding and eating it,” said McColgan, a Quincy resident who also has several teenage children. “It’s what makes him take her trick-or-treating.”
Regardless of methods parents use, experts say imposing limits on how much candy children eat is essential for a healthy Halloween.
“Eating in moderation is really the key,” said Patricia Messing-Hague, a Cohasset nutritionist.
Trick-or-treaters who come to Messing-Hague’s house on Wednesday night will get two to three tiny candy bars.
“If it’s gong to be candy, give out small bars or little packets of M&M’s,” she said.
Setting a candy allowance and removing uneaten candy after a few days are also helpful practices, Messing-Hague said.
Before sending children out trick-or-treating, nutritionist Jane Griffin recommends giving them a healthy meal so they have full stomachs and are less tempted to gorge on candy.
“Make sure you get some fruits and vegetables and a well-balanced meal,” said Griffin, who works at Quincy Medical Center.
Once trick-or-treating begins, children should enjoy the evening and candy, Griffin said.
Limiting sugar intake is a year-round problem, said Christina Clark of Quincy, who has a 3-year-old son. “On a whole, we let our kids have too much sweets but one week (around Halloween) is all right,” Clark said.
Eating candy, within reason, is an important part of the Halloween season, said Ann Marie Finnigan of Milton, who has a 5-year-old daughter.
“I think Halloween is about candy,” Finnigan said. “If we gave out more healthy foods, it would take away from the experience.”
Finnigan only takes her daughter trick-or-treating at a few houses, limiting the volume of candy.
“I just don’t give her a lot of stuff,” she said. “She’ll complain here and there but not all the time.”
Brian Benson of The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) may be reached at email@example.com.