Archive for Thursday, November 1, 2007

The day-after Halloween dilemma: what to do with the candy

November 1, 2007

By Chad Lawhorn

Susan Krumm was not impressed with my piece of candy logic.

In a quest to help you find a safe and sane way to dispose of the approximately three tons of Halloween candy that is now weighing down your kitchen counter, I've been thinking a lot about candy.

Sure, I know it probably isn't a good idea to eat all of it. At least not at one sitting.

But surely there is some piece of magical candy that we can eat as much as we want and still feel good about it. After much deliberation, I determined that the sinless sweet must be: Bit O'Honey.

Think about it.

It is honey. That's natural. And here's the deal-sealer: It's not a lot. It is only a bit.

"Oh, that sticky candy worries me as much as anything," said Krumm, a nutritional educator with the Douglas County Extension Office. "Sugary candy that is sticky is a problem because it sticks to your teeth. That sticky candy can be deadly for your teeth."

Humpf. That's what you get for asking a nutrition educator.

So, what does Krumm suggest? Moderation.

In fact, she said probably one to two pieces of candy a day is about all that is wise to eat from a nutritional standpoint. Yeah, as you now read this -- one day after Halloween -- your children probably have eaten a 60-day supply of candy.

"You know, candy isn't even on the food pyramid anymore," Krumm said. "We really want to limit those empty calories."

Well, sure, if you are into pyramids.

Gayle Sherman, a dietitian with the WIC program of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, said we really ought to be interested in such matters. She did a little research and found that if you ate a snack-size Milky Way candy bar every day -- and that candy bar was the only food that put you over your daily recommended allowance for calories -- you would gain eight pounds in a year.

Here are some suggestions from Krumm and Sherman on how to deal with the candy deluge:

  • Sherman suggests putting the trick back into trick or treat. She says it may not be a bad idea to throw half the candy away once the children go to bed.

"Younger kids probably won't know how much was there anyway," Sherman said.

To me, that seems like it will take up a lot of landfill space, but that's just me.

Krumm counters, though, that instead of throwing it away, the candy could be donated to a local nursing home or senior center where residents may not get treats from family or friends very often.

She has an answer for everything.

  • Another option is to freeze it. Krumm said most chocolate candies freeze well. The sugary, sticky candies -- like lollipops, Jolly Ranchers and, yes, Bit O'Honey -- do not freeze well. She recommends putting the candy in small bags and pulling out a limited amount of candy at a time.
  • Using logic -- regular logic, not candy logic -- is another option. Krumm said the Halloween holiday is a good opportunity to discuss nutrition with children.

"You can tell them that candy is part of the celebration, and that is fine, but it is not a good thing to eat all the time," Krumm said.

Dr. Keith Van Horn, a Lawrence dentist, agrees. He said a candy extravaganza for special occasions is OK for your teeth, as long as you are prepared to put in a little extra time with the toothbrush.

"Just realize that you need to be more thorough in your brushing and flossing," Van Horn said. "That's what I'm going to do."

Out on the streets of Lawrence, many parents were planning on being a bit more permissive than the nutritional experts suggest.

"I say it is a free-for-all on Halloween," said Andrew Klotz, who was visiting from Durango, Colo. "Let them eat till they get sick. They'll learn a lesson."

Ah, yes, tough love. I like it.

Pass me the Bit O'Honey.

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