What Nutritionists Really Do With Their Kids' Halloween Candy Haul
Most say the kids forget about the candy stash soon after Halloween's over!
Every wonder what registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) do with their kids' Halloween candy. You can pretty much guess that they don’t let their kiddos eat buckets of candy, but how do they manage all those goodies? Here are six things that dietitians from around the country do that you can try this Halloween.
Hack 1: Pour and Pick Your Favorites
“When my kids got back after we went trick-or-treating, we poured all of their candies on the table,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com, author of Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table. “As a parent I checked for anything that was already opened or unsafe. Then they picked out a few of their favorite candies, they ate a few that day and the rest went into the cabinet for another day (and others just got ditched). Although they requested some candy over a few days after Halloween — about a week later, they just forgot about them.”
Hack 2: Switch Witch
Holley Grainger, MS, RD, Founder of Cleverful Living and Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD of Real Mom Nutrition play versions of Switch Witch. “On Halloween night after trick or treating, my girls (8 and 5) divide their candy into two piles: what they want to keep and what they want to trade with the Switch Witch. While I’ve never told them how much they need to give away, it usually ends up that they part with around 1/3 of their candy. Sometime during the night, the Switch Witch comes, takes the candy and leaves a small prize in exchange,” explains Grainger. “Rumor has it that the Switch Witch makes good use of 'her' candy by freezing the chocolate, sending some to the office, saving some to throw during the neighborhood Mardi Grad parade and passing some along to the elves to use for gingerbread houses.”
Kuzemchak also plays Switch Witch but a different version of it with leftover Halloween candy. “The kids set out some of their candy on Halloween night, and the Switch Witch arrives while they sleep and takes it, depositing something special in its place like a toy or money,” says Kuzemchak. “The Switch Witch doesn’t steal candy or take what they really love. She only rides off with the stuff they feel 'meh' about or the stuff they have in surplus.” Kuzemchak loves the Switch Witch because it taches her kids an important lesson: how to put a value on what you really like, and not to waste your time on the stuff you don’t.
Hack 3: Trade It In at the Dentist
“The last few years Halloween has fallen on a school day, so my children collect copious amounts of candy as they trick or treat over a mile and a half home,” says Maya Feller MS, RD, CDN is a Brooklyn, NY based dietitian and the author of The Southern Comfort Foods Diabetes Cookbook. As a family, the Fellers have agreed that they can eat a reasonable amount of candy over the duration of the walk home. “At home, the kids sort the candy and are able to keep 15 of their favorite pieces for later consumption. We then bring the remainder of the candy to our dentist's office for a prize,” explains Feller.
Hack 4: Donate to the Community
“I let my kids eat pretty much whatever they want on the night of trick or treating, and after they've eaten a good dinner,” says Michelle Dudash, RDN, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, revised & expanded. “Then, we sort through the candy they'd like to keep and what they'd like to donate to community causes (our church saves it for stockings at Christmas). Over the next few weeks, as I allow them to enjoy a few pieces a day, I discreetly transfer more to the community bags so we don't have endless candy lingering for months. Instead of being obsessed with the candy, they eventually forget about it.”
Hack 5: Donate to Military Troops
Stephanie Clarke, MS, RD, founder of Two Chickpeas healthy food delivery service and owner of C&J Nutrition Consulting does her best to make sure her kids get solid, balanced meals or at the very least a nutritious snack prior to trick-or-treating. “On Halloween night I don’t talk about limiting candy or have strict rules around consumption. Since my kids are still young they know a parent needs to check each piece before they eat it, which seems to naturally limit the amount without talking about it much,” says Clarke. “The next day we go through and they pick the types that they want to keep in their stash. We donate the rest to either the dentist or Operation Shoebox, which sends candy to our military troops.” Clarke likes donating the candy because it changes the conversation from any negative candy talk (like candy is “bad”), to the importance of giving back and sharing kindness.
Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, FAND, Nutrition Professor, Boston University and the host of the hit health and wellness podcast, SpotOn! also donates the leftover Halloween candy in her house to Operation Gratitute, who sends a handful of candy in every care package to military folks. “The recipients smile, and you feel good. What a sweet deal!” says Blake.
Hack 6: Use for Decorations
“My kids get to pick a few of their favorites to keep and the rest gets put away and brought back out during the winter holidays,” says Erin Macdonald, RDN, nutrition, fitness, and wellness coach, co-founder of U Rock Girl! “We have a family tradition to build gingerbread houses and we use all of the colorful candies as decorations! Licorice, lollipops, Skittles, lemon drops, and the like, make great colorful decor for our gingerbread village!”
Melissa Majumdar, MS, RD, CSOWM, LDN, a media spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also saves the candy for the holidays. In December she also uses it to make gingerbread houses and in the spring “we also partner with the Easter bunny and leftover candy may find its way into Easter eggs.”
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN**, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.