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Too Much Chocolate On Halloween May Create Little Monsters
Updated October 31, 2017 10:59 AM
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(UNDATED) - A scary thought for many parents is their children eating too much candy on Halloween, transforming some tykes into sick or sleepless monsters, says Jill Walls, an assistant professor of family, consumer and technology education.

"I think it's important that parents remember that children, just as adults, are subject to the stimulating effects of chocolate and sugar," says Walls, who specializes in child development "If you don't want them to be up all night long, regulate their intake of candy."

Walls points out that chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which can have side effects similar to caffeine. While it has less of an impact on the central nervous system than caffeine, too much theobromine can cause sleeplessness, tremors, restlessness and anxiety. Additional sideeffects include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and withdrawal headaches.

"Parents of children under 2 should find appropriate and healthy alternatives to the traditional Halloween candy, such as fresh fruit," says Walls, the mother of two young daughters.

Websites such as Pinterest offer a host of creative ways to prepare healthy foods to fit with a Halloween theme. For example, bananas can be sliced to look like ghosts and peeled oranges made to look like pumpkins.

"For toddlers and preschoolers, I'd suggest limiting their candy. Children are starting to become more independent at this age, so you can honor that by providing them with a choice of candy but limit them to a certain number of pieces. So you might say something like, 'Tonight, you may choose two pieces of candy.'"

Parents should anticipate that candy consumption can make children feel more energetic, and therefore the treats should be eaten wellbefore bedtime.

She also says some children will completely forget about Halloween candy if it's out of sight, but if not, it might be best to reserve candy for the weekends.

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