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How much Halloween candy should kids really eat?

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

How to let your candy-loving kids indulge on Halloween — within reason

We can all agree that too much candy isn't a good thing. But hang on for a second, well-intentioned mama. You don't have to be the parent who confiscates your child's candy in exchange for a grab bag full of floss.

One Halloween night of indulgence is unlikely to do any damage at all. For healthy kids, the worst case scenario is a tummy ache, a toothache or an embarrassing meltdown. With such low stakes, Halloween is the perfect opportunity for diligent parents to teach their children the art of moderation rather than the punishment of deprivation. Here's how you can help your kids enjoy just the right amount of Halloween candy so both parties can feel satisfied.

1. Fill up first

When kids return home from trick-or-treating with a giant bag of candy and an empty tummy, bad things are bound to happen. People tend to consume less sugar when they are satiated with healthy proteins and fats so make sure your kids have had a good meal before setting out. And when they return, offer a protein bar or a string cheese before they're allowed to eat any candy.

2. Limit the big show

I clearly remember the glee I felt as a kid when I dumped my treasure trove of candy across the living room floor at the end of the night. I practically rolled around in the stuff before eating treat after treat. Not good. Allow your kids to pick three fun-sized pieces of candy to enjoy after all their hard work. Most of these candies contain about 7 grams of sugar per serving which comes out to a total of about 74 calories from sugar for all three candies. The World Health Organization states that no more than ten percent of a person's calories should come from sugar and these totals fall within the guidelines — as long as your kids haven't consumed sugary cereals, juices and sodas before eating their candy.

3. Store it smartly

Once Halloween is over, make sure you keep your child's candy out of their rooms. People are more likely to eat junk food when it is readily accessible — so your job is halfway done if you just keep the candy out of your kid's easy grasp.

4. Offer a smart reward

After a few days of enjoying a bite or two of candy, offer your kids a chance to obtain a smart reward. You can "buy" the remaining candy from them by offering a treat you know they'd love — like a trip to the mall for an older child or a visit to the movie theater for a younger kiddo. Chances are, your kids will readily part with the weird taffy they have left for the chance to enjoy something special. Alternatively, you can participate in a Halloween candy buy back program in which donated candy goes to American troops abroad.

Finally, it's extremely important to teach your children good oral hygiene habits no matter how much candy they eat on Halloween night. Always coach your children to brush their teeth with a high-quality toothpaste like Aquafresh® toothpaste with sugar acid protection from fluoride after they enjoy sugary sweets. The sugars in candy can quickly begin to erode tooth enamel leading to cavities in the blink of an eye. It's better for kids to indulge in a sugary snack for 10 minutes, and then brush, rather than drawing out the snacking over a longer period of time.

This post was brought to you by Aquafresh® Toothpaste.

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