Honestly, I used to have such a tough time giving my kids all the sugary things – especially Halloween treats.  Being a Certified Holistic Nutritionist I knew what sugar does to our bodies.  But with the rise in obesity AND eating disorders I chose to handle treats a little differently the past two years. 

Before I dive in and reveal my approach, know that I place no judgement on anyone for what they decide to do.  Parenting is hard stuff!!  Add sugar into the mix and it gets even harder! 

Just do what feels right in your gut. 

So without further adieu, here are…

5 tricks I use for managing Halloween treats

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#1 – LET THEM GO TO TOWN.  

Yup, I let the kids go nuts on their candy and eat as much as they like.  It sounds like bad parenting, I know!  But by the time they get indoors, take off their costumes, sort out their candy, then re-sort it five more times, ​they only end up eating ~5 pieces max.
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Before going free-for-all with candy, what usually happened was this…

  • We would say​​ “you can ONLY have two pieces”
  • B​ut they would beg and beg
  • S​o we would let them have another two pieces
  • But then they would beg and CRY for more
  • So we’d give in, or deal with tantrums.

​​​In the end, they ended up having those 5 pieces anyways! So now I just let them enjoy until bedtime, without saying NO a million times. Saves the drama, tears, and makes them less obsessed.

#2 – TAKE THEM TO FEWER HOUSES. 

So they don’t come home with a lifetime supply of candy. But when my husband takes them trick-or-treating they magically hit every darn home on the street (read: Keith was craving the ol’ sweets and used his children as a vehicle to fill his pockets). 

That’s when I move to tip #3.

#3 – STORE HALF THE CANDY. 

Depending on how much they come home with, I’ll pack some of it away in the cupboard. Out of sight out of mind – for adults and kids!  This way they are left with a reasonable (about 20 pieces) to spread out over the following days. The rest goes to Keith’s office (or gets eaten in the car on his way there!). #Illneverknow

#4 – OFFER CANDY WHEN NOT EXPECTED. 

I then give the girls one piece in their lunch box every day for the next week – ideally before they ask me. They realize that they don’t need to beg me, or sneak candy, because mommy is happily doling it out.  And then I might offer another piece with dinner periodically.  All of this to make these palatable foods accessible, but not obsessed over. 

#5 – SHOW THEM HOW TO SAVOUR

Research shows that when we take the time to taste our food, we eat less.  So I’m really trying to teach the girls mindfulness at meals, especially when eating “treats”. 

  • ​​I asked them to close their eyes and guess what colour gummy they were eating.  
  • ​I​ asked what it tasted like, or reminded them of.  
  • ​I asked them how long they could keep it in their mouth before swallowing.

This way they weren’t ramming jube-jubes in their mouth without thought.  ​​

It was amazing to see them ration their stash, and even take a bite out of a chocolate and ask to save it for tomorrow.  They are learning how to manage their intake already.

I also try to teach my kids that a treat doesn’t have to be unhealthy.  That’s why I chose one of our favourite healthy snacks for Halloween this year.  Good old SeaSnax.

Halloween Treats

I know…you think I’m nuts for doling out sea vegetables for Halloween.  Given that 95% of houses would likely be giving out chocolate or candy, there was room for something different.  Plus, I would be happy if there were leftovers of my SeaSnax. But I was surprised to see and hear that children were pretty thrilled to see something different in their pumpkins and pillow cases.  Sure, some kiddos balked at the healthy snack and asked for the Playdoh instead. 

But I actually heard one little boy yell “Mommy look!  It’s SeaSnax!” as he walked away from the house.  #highfives 

Halloween treats
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​Ok back to my tricks….

​In case it wasn’t clear why I changed my tune with the treats, here are a few reasons:

IT’S ONLY ONE NIGHT.  OR ONE WEEK.

​​My girls went to school with salmon, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, flax crackers, baba ganoush (eggplant dip), blackberries, and tomatoes today.  Their other lunches (and dinners) look pretty close to this.  It took a lot of work and many of the strategies I share in my Free Webinar to get them to a place where they eat nutrient-dense meals 80-90% of the time.  This way I don’t have to bite my tongue watching them suck on lollipops.

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SWITCH WITCH IS STILL A FORM OF PRESSURE.

​​I was loving the idea of the Switch Witch (who comes and steals your child’s candy), but experts in the feeding space believe the Switch Witch implies control and pressure…because the goal is to decrease/restrict candy intake. Ultimately it doesn’t help children learn how to manage candy long-term. 

A ‘better’ way is to give your child the choice – whether they would like to trade it for a trip to the movies, book, etc or keep the candy (although some experts would still frown upon this).
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TEACHING THEM TODAY, FOR TOMORROW.

​​It’s beneficial to keep these ‘treats’ around because it helps our kids learn how to behave around palatable foods, like Halloween candy. They also see how their parents behave around these treats, and control their intake (ideally without guilt) which influences their behaviour. Because a young adult who is never exposed to “palatable foods” (aka Halloween candy) will have a tough time eating them without shame/guilt.

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FOOD SHOULDN’T HAVE POWER.

​Our effort to see our kids eat less candy can have the opposite effect (i.e. they try to get as much as possible when they get the chance, because it’s restricted at home).  Hence, forbidding or restricting Halloween treats can give them WAY more power than they deserve.
These perspectives gave me the push to change my approach with Halloween.  I’m not perfect, but I’m trying to set good habits now for my girls, so they can grow up with healthy mindset around all foods – be it kale or a Kit Kat bar. 

I realize I’m sharing extremes here, yet treats are likely not 100% forbidden in your ​​home.  So take and apply what works for you and your family.  
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And finally, my highlight from Halloween wasn’t the candy or these 5 tricks.  It was my little girl getting so excited to dress up as her idol – Terry Fox.  When I asked her why Terry Fox, she said “because he helps people and raises money for Cancer research“.  I may have messed up with the candy at some point over the years, but at least we’re doing something right!  <3
Healthy Halloween treats