The trick with treats

Easy does it with Halloween candy

Easy does it with Halloween candy

October 14, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

Halloween's a treat for kids. The trick is not to have them overindulge on the sweets.

Julie Garver's three children get to have a snack after school that can include one or two bite-size candies she keeps in a tiny candy dish in the kitchen. The other snacks are in a snack basket, that this week included granola bars, fruit snacks and pudding.

"We just limit how much they can eat, especially that night," says Garver, who lives east of Hagers-town and is a school nurse at Smithsburg, Old Forge, Paramount and Eastern elementary schools.

"That night" is Halloween, an evening when children often compete to see who can gather the most candy and snack in between houses.


When her three children return home from trick-or-treating there often is an overflow of candy, Garver says.

So her husband, an electrician who works at construction sites, takes bunches of the candy to work to share with the guys just like teachers bring Halloween candy from home to share in the teachers' lounge, Garver says.

The kids get to keep some of their favorites and sharing the loot with co-workers gets the sweets out of the house so the adults aren't eating a lot of candy either, she says.

"In the first place, it's not very healthy, but it is nice to have a treat every now and then," Garver says. The kids don't need the tooth decay nor do they need the sugar rush, especially her son, whom Garver refers to as "Mr. Energy."

"There really isn't a rule of thumb on how much candy can be eaten per day," though it's probably not a lot, says Jackie Haven, a nutritionist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To find out how many calories their children should consume daily, parents should visit mypyra to determine each child's caloric needs based on their personal information such as their activity level, age and gender, Haven says.

If a child is active and getting enough milk, fruits and vegetables, the child can afford some extras like candy, Haven says.

Tim Higgins, clinical nutrition manager for Washington County Hospital, suggests parents provide a full, healthy, fun dinner for children before trick-or-treating time so they are less likely to eat a lot of candy that night. Perhaps a dinner with lean hamburger, chicken or pasta and some vegetables with dip.

Dr. M. Douglas Becker, a pediatrician with the office of Drs. Weiss, Becker, Shuster and Budi on East Antietam Street, says Halloween trick-or-treating is a fun time and the candy is not harmful unless there's been foul play.

"The candy itself, I know there's a boogeyman in a lot of peoples' minds, but I don't worry about candy," says Becker, who has a sweet tooth.

Older children usually stop eating when they are full and if they get a stomachache from eating a little too much, that's a lesson learned, Becker says. Parents should ration candy out one or two pieces at a time for children 6 and younger, he says.

Eating candy that night probably won't keep the kids awake, he says.

Higgins says there's no proven relationship between hyperactivity and sugar consumption, however, a calorie boost can raise metabolism, which might make it harder to get to sleep.

"After you eat all that candy, you should brush your teeth," Becker says.

Ilaya Rajagopal, a pediatric dentist at Walnut Street Community Health Center's dental center and at University of Maryland at Baltimore, says tooth decay doesn't start overnight, but is a chronic process.

Eating candy over a period of 10 hours is more harmful than eating a candy bar within 15 minutes, therefore Rajagopal recommends limiting candy consumption to one time a day such as dessert.

Natural bacteria in the mouth feeds off the sugar in candy, as well as soda and fruit juices, producing acid that attacks the enamel of teeth, he says.

Limiting candy to once a day helps limit the acid attack, otherwise teeth are constantly challenged by acids, Rajagopal says.

Biting hard candy also could chip the enamel off teeth, making the teeth more susceptible to cavities and sensitive to hot and cold foods, he says.

Almost time for trick-or-treating

Several Washington County cities have set trick-or-treating for 6 to 8 p.m. on the following dates:

· Boonsboro, Monday, Oct. 31

· Hagerstown, Monday, Oct. 31

· Hancock, Monday, Oct. 31.

· Keedysville, Monday, Oct. 31

· Sharpsburg, Thursday, Oct. 27

· Smithsburg, Monday, Oct. 31

· Williamsport, Monday, Oct. 31

Safety tips for Halloween

Here are some Halloween trick-or-treating safety tips from Sgt. Mark Knight with the Washington County Sheriff's Department:

· Don't let children go out alone. In addition to safety concerns, supervision could prevent vandalism or mischief.

· Only go to houses with which the family is familiar.

· Once home, check the children's candy bags for any candy that appears to be open or tampered with and discard it. Don't eat homemade treats.

· Children should wear something bright so they can be seen by drivers at night. Many costumes now feature reflective stripes or parts.

· Try to stay on sidewalks and not walk in the street; and cross streets at crosswalks.

· Another thing to look for in costumes is some are now fire retardant. Accidents can happen, such as a child brushing up against a pumpkin that contains a candle while on someone's porch.

· Drivers traveling through neighborhoods should be extra alert and cautious and reduce their speed the week of Halloween trick-or-treating activities because a child could dart out in front of a vehicle.

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