OK. Halloween is over.
The ghost, ghoul, pirate and princess costumes lie in heaps on the floor.
However, the sugar-high, Halloween hangovers remain, along with bowls heaped with candy and other seasonal swag. For nutritionists and oral health experts, this is the really scary part of the holiday.
“Unfortunately, this is just not a good time,” said Donna Krug, family and consumer science agent for the Barton County K-State Research and Extension office. “There is no nutritional value in candy.”
Sadly, there are more and more of the sweet to go around.
The National Confectioners Association estimates 93 percent of American children younger than 13 planned to go trick-or-treating as adults doll out $2.3 billion in goodies.
Also, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, seven in 10 Americans (68.6 percent) planned to celebrate Halloween, up from 63.8 percent last year and the most in NRF’s nine-year survey history. Those celebrating were expected to spend slightly more too with an average of $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $66.28 last year. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion.
“Personally, I believe it just needs to disappear,” Krug said of the treats.
She realizes, however, this may not be feasible. “So, keep the kids on a routine,” she said.
The Halloween spoils could last for weeks. But, Krug said, youngsters will eventually lose interest.
“You can ration it out,” she said. Parents can pick out a few pieces and get rid of the rest.
“The children should continue to eat on a normal schedule,” she said. Offer candy only after a healthful meal.
What is a appropriate amount? Nutritionists suggest a serving should be no bigger than the palm of the child’s hand, or about two or three pieces.
Put another way, it should total no more than 100 calories daily. Further more, Krug recommends those calories be offset by cuts elsewhere in a child’s diet that day.
The extension agent had another suggestion. “You can offer lots of healthy food choices during the day so that kids are not really that hungry for sugary candy.”
Too much candy in a short period of time can not only make kids feel sick to their stomach, it can cause blood sugar to spike, leading to a crash later on.
The sweets not only wreak havoc with blood sugar levels. They can also damage teeth.
The American Dental Association advises candy be consumed with meals, hard or sticky candies that stay in the mouth for extended periods be avoided and to drink more flouridated water. In addition, kids should only be allowed to eat their sweets for a short period of time — no more than 30 minutes — then brush their teeth immediately to stop the acid.