With Halloween in the rear view mirror‚ do you know where your kids’ candy is?

Of course you do. As parents, you struggle with the annual Halloween dilemma — how much of those bite-sized bars to allow the kids to eat each day, until that haul is gone. (And also, how much do you swipe each day — and don’t pretend you don’t. We see you, Twix moms.)

A recent New York Times article outlined this candy crush, noting that “For many parents, the biggest trick of Halloween is how to make mounds of treats disappear when the holiday is over so their kids don’t overindulge. But in the effort to keep kids from eating too many sweets, many parents may end up inadvertently reinforcing unhealthy eating habits.”

According to the latest research:

  • A child’s preference for sweet foods can be 20 times as great as an adult’s sweet tooth.
  • Children who grow up with a lot of food restrictions (particularly children of parents who diet) develop unhealthy eating habits.
  • Overt food restrictions — like putting sweets and sodas on a high shelf and controlling when a child can have them — just make children want the foods more.

Experts recommend treating the Halloween mountain of candy just like any other foods in the house. Cathy Schneider, a clinical dietitian at Backus Hospital, said the best plan is to avoid mindless eating — whether it’s Halloween treats or everyday snacks.

Schneider recommends:

  • Create and stick to a meal and snack schedule.
  • Don’t eat in front of the computer.
  • Prepare snacks and meals in advance to ensure proper protein, healthy fats, and good carbs are being consumed.
  • Put the Halloween candy in a basket with other snacks, like whole fruit or grain bars, to make it seem less special and more like the other foods they’re allowed to eat.

For more tips on managing that Halloween haul, click here.