Let's say your kids hit the "cool" houses this year at Halloween -- the ones that don't give away crap like apples and toothbrushes -- and brought home one hell of a haul. Congrats to you for living in a neighborhood with decent neighbors! Now what to do with all of that candy?
When I was a kid, my mother would ration the candy out over weeks and weeks of packed lunches and
bribes treats for when I cleaned my room or managed not to get into a fight at school. It was like Chinese water torture, knowing all that candy was there, somewhere -- the freaking mother lode -- and I was only able to enjoy it in small, metered doses. Hyperbole and a Half understands this.
So what are you, my generation with your own tiny kids, going to do with all that candy now? Are you going to be the parent you always wanted your own folks to be and let your kids get a screaming sugar high that may or may not result in CPS taking them away from you after they break into the neighbor's car and go on a joyride? Or will you be the rational, sane parent that your mother always hoped you'd be?
How about doing something in between?
We looked at the nutrition content of five popular candy bars in traditional Halloween "fun-size" as compared to the nutrition content of five popular snacks. Some of these comparisons won't surprise you; others might. But the moral of each story is the same: Swap some candy for a snack once in a while and -- as long as your kid is getting exercise and eating right the rest of the time -- you'll all be just fine.
Almond Joy vs. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish
Two fun-size bars of Almond Joy only have 20 more calories than a serving (55 pieces) of Goldfish: 160 calories versus 140. True, the Goldfish have less sugar (1 gram compared to 8 grams), but the Almond Joy has no cholesterol and actually contains less fat than that baggie of Goldfish.
Snickers vs. Frosted Flakes
Frosted Flakes are better than two fun-size Snickers bars...but not by much. They're nearly neck-and-neck in several important departments: sugar and calories. The Snickers bars edge out the cereal by containing 3 grams of protein, but the Frosted Flakes make it up by having no fat or cholesterol. Six of one, half a dozen of another...
Milky Way vs. Sunmaid Raisins
Feeding your kids raisins is the equivalent of feeding them candy without the exciting, giddy feeling that accompanies candy itself. You're basically sucking all the fun out of something incredibly sugary by pretending it's "healthy." Forget it and just give your kid two fun-size Milky Way bars. They have fewer calories and half the sugar. (Although there is more fat; it is still candy, after all.)
Crunch vs. Lunchables
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You get far more bang for your snacky buck with three fun-sized Crunch bars (the recommended serving size) than you do with sodium-riddled Lunchables. Crunch bars have a sum total of 180 calories, 9 grams of fat and 21 grams of sugar. That seems like a lot until you look at side of a Turkey and American Cheese Stackers Lunchables box: 350 calories, 13 grams of fat, 25 grams of sugar and 45 milligrams of cholesterol. When your meat and cheese snack has more sugar than three candy bars, something is seriously wrong.
Kit Kat vs. a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
The fun-size Kit Kat bars were by far the worst of the lot, nutrition-wise, but still better than one of America's most popular snack foods: the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yes, we worship the PB&J as much as the next person, but with the sandwich at an average 570 calories, 15 grams of fat and 23 grams of sugar, those Kit Kat bars -- and their 210 calories, 11 grams of fat and 21 grams of sugar -- don't look so terribly bad by comparison.
Of course, you could always get rid of all the candy your kids brought home and continue feeding your children only healthy snacks like carrot sticks and apple slices. But that way lies candy-binge-eating once your kids finally get to college and are left to their own devices. (TRUST ME.) Practice moderation and let them enjoy the candy for a while, then head back to the healthy snacks...at least until Easter rolls around.