How to Avoid Halloween Candy Overload

I will never forget the Halloween that my younger son (and middle child) went on a candy binge so fiercely that he made himself sick on sweet treats. (And neither will he!)

My sons were about 9 & 10. As I went through their pillow cases full of candy to toss out questionable looking items, I placed the "good Stuff" in a bowl for later. I allowed each of my sons to pick out 2 pieces to enjoy now, and set the bowl on top of the refrigerator instructing them that they could have another piece or two tomorrow.

The next morning, Michael, (my older son and oldest child) came in to wake me because his brother was, (in his words) "turning green and fluttering his eyes. Be prepared because I think he's gonna stay that color for a while mom..."

When I walked into the room, I immediately diagnosed the problem: empty candy wrappers littered the floor. My son was curled up in a ball, moaning & groaning in pain like there was no tomorrow. I asked him as I looked at the wrappers in shock how much he ate and he couldn't even answer me, partly because he had lost count of how much he had eaten, and partly because he was running past me holding his mouth with both hands, about to throw up. (Michael informed me that not only had his brother eaten "two handfuls" of candy after we went to bed, climbing up on a chair to reach it, but also had grabbed a few pieces for "breakfast" and ate it until he felt sick. Michael assured me that HE only ate one extra piece that Steven offered him as a bribe, and that he had warned Steven of the horrors of too much candy.)

Needless to say, the lesson was learned by both kids. To this day, there is nothing my sons hate more than the sensations of being nauseated and throwing up, so that was enough to stop him from binging like that ever again. In fact, I don't think he even eats candy at all.

In between my son's trips to the bathroom that morning, and my wondering if I should take him to the hospital, I threw out ALL of the rest of the candy-(well I stashed a few pieces of the better chocolate for later.) to drive the point home, and I changed some rules for the following year:

1-Between the parties and the rounds of Trick or Treating with friends, it piles up and I really don't want the Halloween candy still around on New Year's Day. Its insane. I only allowed the kids one round of Trick or Treating, and enough candy to fill a small bowl (the equivalent to about one regular sized bag of store bought candy) which is all they really need. The rest I would donate to the local middle school, pediatrician's office or children's hospital.

2-I made sure they were well-fed with something warm and satisfying prior to embarking on the yearly candy hunt. No more would the excuse "I'm not hungry" cut it. No one went out until they ate a full (healthy) meal and cleaned up the dishes.

3-Its more about the dressing up, and the experience than the candy itself-so I had them trade their candy up for other good stuff-like movie tickets (which were not expensive back in the 80's) glow sticks, Hot Wheels, Silly Putty (which later was banned from my home - but that story is for another post!) plastic Army Men, etc. This trend has become popular in recent years. I had no idea I was on to something back then!

Here are two links for you:

Halloween Candy Alternatives

10 Ways to Get Rid Of Excess Candy (Including a list of places that will take candy donations)

What are some other ways you help your kids (and you) avoid Halloween Candy Overload? Please share with us in the comments below.