Organization: Root Health, Nutrition and Wellness
Authors: Veronica Rechten, MS
Publish Date: 9/26/23
Halloween can be a really fun time for families…and also a bit stressful for parents. The concept of candy, when it comes to kids, can be difficult for parents to navigate. Do we let them have it? How much? How do we subvert a meltdown? In this post, we’re hoping to be able to assist you in helping your child through the Halloween festivities while keeping a positive view of what food is and what it does for us.
Try to Relax!
It’s difficult sometimes to loosen the reins on certain types of foods when it’s been drilled into us that candy and sweets aren’t “good” for us. When we say “all foods fit,” we really mean it. No, Halloween candy is not going to give your children a host of nutrients like veggies will…but can you remember your joy at Halloween? Getting candy door to door, sorting it, and trading with your friends or siblings afterwards? Knowing that the candy is going to taste so sweet and nice when you finally tear into it? That’s nourishment too!
Looking forward to that special time of year and making memories can be just as important as the food that nourishes us. Note: if you have a child with allergies and you don’t want them to miss out on the fun, check out our list of allergen-friendly candy, and non-candy alternatives!
Make it No Big Deal:
This might sound controversial but, on Halloween evening, let your kids go for it and dig in! We know well that restriction can lead to hyper-fixation, which may cause binging or hiding the restricted food. If a child knows they can have as much as they want, it removes that feeling of scarcity or, “I have to eat it now because I don’t know when I’ll get it again.” Talk with your children while they’re eating. Ask what their favorite is? Talk about sweetness, crunch, gooey textures, etc. Ask them how their bellies feel, and remind them to listen to their bodies if they feel uncomfortable, or get a stomach ache. If that does happen, it’s a learning experience for next time. Let them know that when they are done, you will put the candy away for them to have again tomorrow. Again…remove the scarcity, remove the fixation.
Nourish Them the Rest of the Day
Just because we’re letting them loose on their candy bag, doesn’t mean that’s all they will eat that day. Making sure they have regular meals and snacks (as they would on any other day) with a balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates, is important for keeping them satiated and regulating their blood sugar (need some ideas? Check out our meal-prep post!). Restricting foods in preparation for special meals or snacks can lead to disordered thinking around eating, and is important avoid for kids AND adults!
It’s completely up to you and what you know of your child (and of their age) whether the candy will be openly available to grab throughout the day. If you feel like that won’t work for your family, treat it as you do any other food in your house. Let them pick some to go with their lunch, or make it part of the meal at dinner. If it’s asked for when it’s not time for snack (again, like any other food) let them know that it’s not on the menu now, but can be eaten at dinner time that evening. You’re still in charge of what they eat, but you can do it in a way that creates a positive atmosphere around ALL foods, whether it’s broccoli or Snicker bars!
*Note: model the behavior. If you’re having some Halloween candy (or any treat) yourself, feel free to discuss what you like about it, and how it makes you feel. Be careful not to say things like “I shouldn’t have this,” “this isn’t good for me” or other negative comments. Remember that you are striving to help your child build a positive relationship with food, and they see and hear more than you realize. Enjoy your treats together in delight!
If you need more nutritional support, visit us at www.roothealthnj.com for more posts, recipes and webinars, or contact us for a discovery call to become a patient.