January 18, 2022

The candy frenzy: nutritionist says let kids indulge, but be sensible

Jacob DeRochie/contributing photographer

Richard Haines IV, dressed as Charizard from Pokemon, visits the Community Restaurant during the trick-or-treat portion of the Halloween Parade.

Two hours of ringing doorbells and asking “trick or treat” tend to result in buckets and bags full of candy Halloween night.

Then you get home and those buckets and bags are overturned, creating a colorful mountain of plastic wrapped treats.

What to eat first?

A Reese’s? M&M’s? Maybe the Twix or Milky Way?

All four at once?

Whatever makes a kid happy, and still get to sleep before sunrise, said Andrea Hart, a registered dietitian nutritionist and nutritionist for SUNY Cortland. She has no problem with kids eating candy on Halloween, but advises against letting them eat as much as they want.

“I’m not a big fan of that,” Hart said. “I don’t want my kids getting sick.”

She recommended having a few pieces of the candy you like and stashing the rest, having a piece “here and there during the week.”

Hart does not suggest putting a lot of restrictions on what the kids can have because if they find a way around the restrictions, she said they could go crazy with the amount of candy they eat.

When the large pile of candy is dumped on top of itself, everything can look like a fun treat to try. Hart said it is good practice to sort through what you or your kids actually like, keeping that, and throwing away the rest. It prevents you or your kids from eating more than you might want.

“Try to steer them toward the dark chocolate with nuts,” she said, but acknowledged that could backfire with kids not having any interest.

In general, Hart said there isn’t one candy that is worse or better than the rest — in terms of which is healthier.

“There are organic candies with less corn syrup and some are really, really good,” Hart said. “But when it’s Halloween, go with what you like.”

Shoppers nationwide are expected to spend $2.6 billion on candy this year — just slightly down from the $2.7 billion spent in 2017 — according to the National Retail Federation. According to a study by CandyStore.com, using 11 years of sales data, New York’s most popular candy is Sour Patch Kids.

Hart suggests not going trick or treating on an empty stomach. It could lead to eating more candy than you or your kids may want or need. The end result with too many sugary treats is always feeling sick, Hart said.

There are some people who eat candy and sugary treats on a daily basis and don’t realize they feel bad because of always eating them, Hart said. If they stop, they’ll start feeling better again.

Stick to arguing with yourself over having the Reese’s, M&M’s, Twix or Milk Way first. Or all four at once.

“Halloween is a good time to splurge, but remember the next day may not be good if you eat too much,” Hart said.