Fit Family: Halloween Candy, How Much is Too Much?

by Mike Levinson

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 12.49.07 PMKids love Halloween, and why not? They get to dress up in cool costumes and go around the neighborhood filling their bags or plastic pumpkins with delicious candy. Then it’s time to head home with that heavy haul of chocolate and other sweet treats. But what happens next? Do they eat a lot that night? Or maybe you say “Whoa!” and tell them to pick a certain number of pieces.

  • Most kids get at least 50 pieces of candy, with many getting more than 100 pieces.
  • Whether they eat all or just some of their candy, it takes most kids a long time to do it.

But kids aren’t always in charge when it comes to how much candy they get to eat — many parents put limits on how much they can eat. Kids who have limits are allowed to eat as little as one piece a week to as many as 10 or 20 a day, though not all at the same time. Sometimes the rules are complicated. Though most kids have parents who limit kids’ candy intake, plenty do not have any restrictions. Why limit their candy intake? To avoid getting fat, feeling sick or getting cavities in their teeth.

If you or your kids have ever eaten too much Halloween candy, you probably remember the sickening feeling in your stomach. But maybe making a mistake like that can teach kids an important lesson—that it can be better to eat a little of your favorite foods, like candy, instead of enormous amounts.

Some food experts think that kids need to figure out what their limits are—what it feels like to be full. When they do, they can adjust how much they eat so they don’t overdo it. For instance, if your kids have ever done something like eaten several snow cones at a picnic, they probably decided to never do that again, right?!

Maybe you’re wondering which way is the best way and if you are doing the right thing. Well, there’s no simple answer. We don’t have a secret rulebook that tell us what to do, so we usually just try to make the best decision we can. If your child is the type to be reasonable and stop eating candy before he or she gets sick, maybe he/she gets to decide how much to eat. But for kids who might overdo it, you may need to step in and set some limits.

It’s important that parents have a good idea what their kids have collected and how much candy they’re eating, They also need to be role models. Role models about candy? Yep. Kids often follow in their parents’ footsteps, so if you pig out on Halloween, your kids are more likely to set limits, too. While some Halloween candy is fun, quite a few kids are more interested in getting non-candy treats on Halloween night, like granola bars or raisins. Think about it.

Mike Levinson, a Calabasas resident, is a former amateur bodybuilding champion and registered dietitian who holds dual degrees in sports nutrition and physical education. He has worked extensively as a nutritionist with the California Angels baseball team and with famous athletes such as Charles Oakley, JT Snow and Sean Rooks. He also worked as a nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders.  

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