Wondering how to handle all that Halloween candy? As a mom and Registered Dietitian, here is my advice. (The answer might surprise you!)
How to Handle all that Halloween Candy
With Halloween around the corner, you may be worried about the amount of candy that your child will eat. Not just on Halloween, but on all the days surrounding this candy-filled holiday. I totally get this because I used to feel the same way! In addition to just spending too much time worrying about it, I would try to hide their Halloween candy after a few days or tell them how many pieces they could eat on the days after Halloween.
Fortunately, once I learned more about Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility and Intuitive Eating, I realized that the best thing I could do was relax and let them enjoy their candy. After all, it’s their candy and dressing up and getting candy is what the holiday is all about!
Give them Control over the Fate of their Candy
So what do you do? You trust them and give them control of the fate of their candy!
By giving them permission to eat as much or little as they want, you are giving them control and letting them learn to listen to their bodies. This will help promote a positive relationship with food and comfort around all foods. (The same goes for us adults, studies show that the more we give ourselves permission to eat what we crave, the less forbidden it becomes, making us less likely to overeat it!)
If your child has never been given full control of their candy stash before, this may be super exciting for them and they may very well eat so much that they get a stomach ache. Or they may want to hide it in their room because they don’t trust that you won’t throw it away (or eat it yourself!) That’s ok! Over time they will relax and may even surprise you by wanting to donate half of their candy, doling it out as a daily treat for the next month or so, or even forgetting about it after a few days.
What Parents Can Control
So while your child should be the one to decide how much of their candy to eat. There are some factors that you can control when it comes to candy and overall nourishing habits, and these include:
- For younger kids, how many houses you trick or treat at.
- This equates to how much candy they end up with!
- What you serve them to eat before they trick or treat.
- A full belly of food will help cut down on the candy eaten.
- What you serve for snack and mealtimes on a regular basis.
- It’s the day to day habits that really matter!
- How you view candy year-round.
- Is it a forbidden treat or are they allowed to have it on occasion with full permission to eat and enjoy as much as they want? The more forbidden it is, the more likely it is that they will want to overeat it.
- How you handle candy for yourself.
- Instead of saying: “I can’t keep that around, I will eat it all.” or “Mommy shouldn’t eat any candy.” Say: “I love Halloween candy too.” or “_____ is my favorite candy, I’m going to savor every last bit.”
What About Donating the Candy or Trading it in for a Non-Candy Treat?
You can suggest the idea of donating all or some of the candy or trading it in for cash or a non-food treat. However, if they would rather keep all their candy, that’s ok. Don’t make a big deal about it.
Looking Out for the Immediate Safety of Kids
Of course, there are times when parents need to interfere with a child’s candy-eating, these include sorting through the candies to:
- Look for allergens for kids with food allergies.
- Remove candy that may pose choking hazards for younger kids.
- Help your child wearing braces identify the candies that they shouldn’t eat.
- Make sure everything seems safe to eat (e.g., intact and unopened) before letting your kids eat them.
You can make the above more fun by making it sorting/counting game!
Do What You Feel Comfortable With
Ultimately, you need to do what you feel comfortable with and works for your family. Interested in learning more about intuitive eating? Let me know! I offer individual consults as well as workshops related to creating a nourishing, joyful eating experience.