While Halloween may look quite different this year due to the global pandemic, your children are still likely to expect to get all dressed up and, more importantly, get lots and lots of candy! Do you want to cringe just thinking about the loads of sugar your child is about inhale in one evening? You’re likely strategizing how to put limits on candy consumption without taking away from the enjoyment of the evening.
Here are some do’s and don’ts from your pediatric dietitian:
Do: Start preparing for Halloween (or any holiday for that matter) early!
We need to normalize candy and sweets for our kids by introducing them more frequently. Yes, that’s right. A pediatric dietitian just recommended giving your kids more candy. While this advice might put me at odds with your family dentist, there’s a good reason for it.
When kids only get chocolate bars and lollipops once a year, they see them as a revered food. As a result, they won’t know how to enjoy them in moderation. In my practice I have seen kids whose families restrict sweets to very special occasions make themselves sick to their stomach when they finally get a chance to indulge. When desserts appear at the table from time to time, and kids get to eat sweets on a semi-regular basis, they can learn to enjoy these foods right alongside fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins!
Don’t: Please, please do not serve lighter meals before Halloween as a way of limiting your children’s overall calorie intake!
We actually need to pay extra special attention to eating balanced meals and snacks leading up to holidays. This means dinner or evening snacks should include good protein and high-fiber foods to help satiate our child’s belly. This will allow them to make better choices about their impending quantity of candy consumption. The last thing we want when your kid overturns their candy bucket is for them to be feeling a rumble in their stomachs.
Do: Remind your child that they can save some of their candy for later!
Some children feel the need to go overboard on the sweets during Halloween night because they know they won’t get another chance to enjoy candy for 364 more days! Ease their minds by allowing them to save some of their candy to enjoy throughout the year. Consider making a plan with your child to enjoy 1 or 2 pieces of candy each day or on weekends so they can make Halloween last even longer!
Don’t: Do not hide their excess candy!
Kids are extremely bright, and they can be especially protective of their Halloween candy. When we try to hide sweets we are often creating an environment of distrust around food. Be honest! If it seems like the amount of candy that your child acquired during Halloween night is excessive, consider working together to separate out the best candies from the rest and allowing your child to keep only their favorite items. One great practice is to have your child donate a portion of their candy to others in need! Regardless of what you decide to do, don’t sneak around!