What I used to do about Halloween Candy
We have been getting so many inquires from parents about Halloween candy recently with Halloween coming up. I am seeing how stressful it can be for parents. When my kids were little we used to just let them eat their candy until their heart was content after I went through it making sure it was safe and asked if I could have some lol! They naturally would crave other foods and I can remember many years finding their candy under their beds a year later! My kids are now grown adults with their own children, are healthy, and have a healthy relationship with all foods and their bodies.
What I have learned
Now that I am a dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, I have learned how important that was for me to do, even though I did not know it then. Obviously we know that Halloween candy/candy is not as nutritious as other foods, but I also know the more we restrict sweets, the more they will crave them. I have learned that a free for all does not work either, and structure is important. It is possible to teach our children that all foods, including candy can fit. For those that claim candy is toxic I can only say that an eating disorder is much more toxic than any candy! In addition many “natural candies” have the same amount of sugar that other candies do. In addition, and what I always tell my patients, is we do not eat candy only, all day long every single day. If that was the case, then yes I am sure we would have some nutritional deficiencies but we would also have nutritional deficiencies if we only ate chicken, or any other one food solely.
What we see
I have seen many kids whose parents restrict Halloween candy, sweets or candy in general, hide it in their rooms, in their backpacks, and in between the cushions of the couch. According to Ellyn Satter, a Family Therapist and Pediatric Dietitian, we can naturally teach our children to manage Halloween candy intake without rules or restrictions. Kids that have regular access to sweets eat them moderately. Studies show that children that are deprived of sugared snacks, feel guilt or shame, become preoccupied with them, overeat them when they are not even hungry, and weigh more! They feel guilt and shame as a result and sometimes we find them bingeing later on down the road.
What to do
Here are some tips we have been sharing with our patients:
1. Try to eat dinner (for us it was always pizza on Halloween, quick and easy) before you embark on your trick or treating adventure.
2. Allow your kids to have as much Halloween candy as they want that night and perhaps the next day or two after checking to make sure the treats are safe (and ask them if you can have your favorites)!
3. After that tell them you will keep it for them and they can choose a few pieces to put in their lunches, for snacks (with a glass of milk which can make it more nutritious), and for after dinner, or with dinner. When they can follow the rules themselves they get to manage their own stash.
In closing, send the Switch Witch away on her broom, enjoy the holiday costumes, connection and of course the candy!