Some parents have really committed to learning how to make their Halloween candy—poof!—disappear, no matter the cost.
From "hilarious" videos circulated each year of kids filmed crying after being told all their candy is gone, to parents sharing "tips and tricks" for repurposing all that candy, it seems some parents will stop at nothing to keep the candy for themselves or make it go away entirely.
Then we look to the adorable couple that is Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, and we realize there's a better way to curb the sugar.
In the Bell and Shepard house, moderation, consistency and honesty are key.
Their children, Delta, age 4, and Lincoln, age 6, are both enrolled in school. At the preschool they attend, they are encouraged to eat healthy foods and to celebrate their benefits and visual appeal.
"Our preschool reiterates all the time at lunch, 'You always eat your growing food before you eat your crunchies.' So they talk about what their growing foods are and why you eat them—and then your pretzels are crunchy and come last."
Bell encourages a consistent approach to healthy foods by promoting this idea in her home.
"When I tell my kids what they have to eat, it's not just my rule, and that's all they'll hear about it. I tell them, 'When you eat broccoli, your brain grows bigger. Your body grows bigger. You can jump higher. You can feel better in school. You can watch more movies with me and understand them.' I let them know the effects of what eating good food means. And they're pretty willing to get through it."
Bell uses this same approach for enjoying Halloween candy, though there's a little exception here that Bell personally considers to be "a bit dishonest."
"This is one place where we are a bit dishonest in our parenting, but if they ever asked, I promise I would tell them the truth. When they're trick-or-treating, we let them eat a couple of pieces of candy, and then when we come home, they put their pillowcases on the washing machine where they aren't readily available."
You would think that after the kids placed their pillowcases full of candy on the washing machine that it would turn into one big parental free-for-all, eating candy all night. But this isn't the case for Bell.
She clarified that she and Shepard might take a few pieces out of the pillowcases to enjoy, but only from the pile of candies she doesn't intend to give back to her children.
Every year, the morning after trick-or-treating, Bell sorts through the candies, looking for the particularly unhealthy varieties. Once those have been taken from the pile, she swaps in other delicious, but healthier options, focusing on more natural ingredients, such as sugar in place of high-fructose corn syrup.
"I make little changes, and they never know the difference. So I'm fine being dishonest about that. But if they asked, I'd say, 'I care about your body and these are better for you.'"
Even in this process of providing healthier, fun options, though, Bell still promotes honesty and openness with her children. She's clearly thought this out and even knows what to say to her kids when and if they ask her about the decisions she's made regarding their health.
And Bell is hardly the polar opposite of some of her more popular roles, like Frozen and The Good Place.
Though she may not want "to shove some chocolate in her face" when preparing for her sister's coronation, or to eat all the shrimp at the cocktail party like Eleanor Shellstrop, Bell still believes in "fun foods" and a healthy dose of moderation. She even stated that she continues to allow her kids to eat one or two pieces of candy each day until it's all gone.
Many parents could learn from this trick, as the emphasis is otherwise on who actually gets the candy in the household. Many parents refer to this as the "parent tax" and justify taking from the trick-or-treat candy that way.
Other parents could learn from this, as well, particularly those who allow their children to eat candy on Halloween night and then throw the rest away, or who hide the candy away in the hopes that their children will choose the healthier options that remain readily available in the house.
Whatever the reasons for filtering the candy supply, parents can learn a thing or two from the Bell and Shepard house.
Providing healthier sweets with more natural ingredients or overall less sugar allows children the fun of eating some candy without as many health risks.
Also teaching kids early on about eating their healthy foods before their "crunchy" or chewy ones can help with Halloween night. This way, they will fill up on their healthier foods and will be able to respect the nutritional value of those foods, while still having a chance to enjoy the flavor of their favorite snacks and treats.
There's always something to learn, even during a fun and spooky holiday.
The cookbook Bring Back the Taste of Childhood: 40 Candy Recipe you can make at Home is available here.