October 30, 2013 5:39 pm
Updated: October 31, 2013 12:56 pm

Health experts offer some surprising Halloween advice for parents

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There’s only one more sleep until kids get to go trick-or-treating, and parents get to deal with the aftermath.

On top of the calories (up to 100) and fat (a couple teaspoons) a little chocolate bar can contain, all the sugar just screams cavities for parents trying to instill healthy habits in their little goblins and ghouls.

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So some parents have gotten creative with their kids: having them swap in most of their treats for toys, or even buying it off them by the pound. But not only is that not an option for some parents, but some experts feel too much control could be counter-productive.

“Kids are dreaming of this day, right? So let’s not make it not be fun. Let’s use it as an opportunity to get out there and be active with our kids…and then it is just as simple as sitting down, laying some basic ground rules,” said registered dietician Heidi Bates.

Bates thinks that parents should be more concerned with what their kids are eating the other 364 days of the year. Childhood obesity speciality Dr. Rena LaFrance, from Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital, agrees. Both stress that moderation is key.

“We need to teach kids how to cope with candy – it’s in our world,” said Bates. “We don’t want to set it up to be something you can never have, and make it be more exciting than it needs to be.”

The dietitian offers the following tips for parents trying to manage their kids’ candy consumption:

1. Make sure kids have supper before they go out trick-or-treating, to help curb the amount of candy they’ll eat later.
2. Go through the candy (for safety reasons).
3. If you have the chance, re-bag the candy into little portions, to help with the moderation part.

LaFrance has a couple more suggestions for parents with young kids: “You can limit the number of houses you go to. You can even ask when you get to the door – ‘just one or two pieces, please.'”

She thinks one to two pieces a day is a reasonable amount to ration out for your kids after Halloween.

Read more: The best and worst Halloween treats, as rated by nutritionists

Dental health experts say that hard or sticky candies – even raisins – that stay in a child’s mouth for upwards of 15 minutes are the worst offenders when it comes to creating cavities.

“Every time you eat a chocolate or a sucker or a sweet, for 120 minutes after that consumption, the pH level in the mouth drops to a level that allows the cavity process to start,” explained Alexandra Sheppard, a dental hygiene professor.

She admits she’ll be handing out toothbrushes and floss to trick-or-treaters.

Read more: U.S. woman to give ‘obese’ children letter instead of candy this Halloween

The average child eats about half a kilogram of candy on Halloween night.

With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News

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