Halloween is the time of year when local doctors get a lot of questions from parents as they worry about their kids eating way too much candy after trick or treating.
Data has shown that the average child consumes three cups of sugar on Halloween. It’s like eating 220 sachets of sugar.
Dr. Sarah Barlow, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Health and a professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, said she usually sees many children get sick from too many sweets at this time of year.
“Parents have many reasons to strike the right balance on Halloween. We want kids to have a really fun Halloween, ”she said. “But the topic of candy is a bit challenging. Some children get stomach aches from eating lots of sweets. You feel bloated and cramped. We also hear about that sugar rush kids get after being off the walls for a while, so to speak. And then fall down and get really moody. “
Candy is also not good for growing teeth.
But there are ways to control children’s candy consumption this weekend.
“Teach the children that in any home it is very polite to take only one piece with you. It’s not ‘pack all you can’ – it’s a piece and a nice thank you, ”said Barlow.
If you’re wondering how much is too much, Barlow said that just two candies a day usually hit the sugar limit that she knows is hard to control on Halloween.
“It’ll probably be too much no matter what. In a way, our goal is pretty low sugar for every child, ”she said.
Doctors say there isn’t much of a difference between certain types of candy – sugar is sugar. The key is to consume in moderation.
However, there are alternatives such as pre-packaged pretzels, popcorn, or dried fruit.
“I sometimes gave out stickers or small toys. In fact, the kids seem perfectly happy with it, ”Barlow said.
While it’s hard to simply deny the cute stuff this Halloween, she said parents can still create a plan with their child to avoid overconsumption.
“One thing parents can do indirectly is make sure the kids have a meal before they go trick or treating so they don’t eat the candy on an empty stomach,” she said. “That will probably reduce the amount.” they eat that night. “
Another tip Barlow uses is something she calls “buying back” that can be useful for older children.
“With this strategy, the child and the parents plan a toy together. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but something that the children want and choose in advance, ”she explained. “When the kids come back from trick or treating, they can definitely eat candy. It’s okay to have this on occasion, we don’t want to turn this into something that is full of guilt. But they give the rest of their candy for the toy. “
This will help the child enjoy the fun of collecting candy for trick or treating, and will save parents the potential headache of trying to limit the amount of candy they consume that night.
Finally, Barlow said parents may need language help in order to talk about candy to their children.
“These candies are just not good for a healthy body. Too much is not good. Some things are fine, ”she said. “Don’t talk about getting fat or getting too many calories. Our bodies just need different kinds of food most of the time, and sweets are okay sometimes. It’s just not good for growing bodies to have so much. “
Overdosing can cause stomach pain and indigestion as side effects. There isn’t much you can do other than let it happen or offer a warm pack on your stomach, Barlow said.
Signs of indigestion that parents should look out for include:
- Pain in the middle of the upper abdomen
If any other worrying symptoms appear or persist, call your pediatrician.