So this Halloween is going to be a little different huh? Here in Toronto we are being advised to avoid trick or treating, which I knew the kids would be really bummed about. So we have a plan B that I feel good about. I’m going to share how we are doing Halloween this year if you need inspiration.
Keep reading for my top tips for managing Halloween candy – especially during a pandemic!
COVID aside, Halloween presents a few other challenges – especially for our little sugar-obsessed monsters (I mean kiddos). There’s a reason why children gush over all things sweet, sugar-y and carb-y. Heck I can name a few adults who enjoy a sweet thing or two. Am I right? Sugar is tasty!
Plus these foods provide quick fuel without much effort (thanks to the glucose we get from those refined sugars). Clearly sugar isn’t something we want our kids to be consuming on a regular basis.
So why are we flooding kids with candy on October 31st every year?
First of all, Halloween doesn’t have to be ALL about the candies. Here are some healthier Halloween options I’ve used I previous years. My girls don’t get chocolate nor candy every day or every week. However, I believe there’s a balance when it comes to what we feed our children. Don’t fall off your chair when I say this, but there is a place for sugar and sweets…and Halloween treats.
In a world where we have easy access to sugar (and kids get exposure at school, playdates, etc) it’s really hard to avoid. Of course, I would be hands off if I lived on an island with no other humans. But that’s not reality (and it would be pretty lonely!).
Deprivation can present challenges down the road if a child feels they have restricted access to certain foods (like sweets). That then backfires when they are no longer attached at our hip and have the freedom to make their own food choices.
Setting up a healthy relationship with food starts now – and even on Halloween.
So while my older girls are dressed up as the Descendants, and the littlest one will be the cutest Minnie Mouse ever (according to her mom), we embrace Halloween for what it is. Let me show you
My Top Tips for Managing Halloween candy (especially during a pandemic)
#1 – HOST A SCAVENGER HUNT
#2 – LET THEM GO TO TOWN
Before we started going “free-for-all” with candy, this was what happened…
- Me: You can ONLY have two pieces
- Kids: Not fair. Please can I have one more (they would beg and beg)
- Mom: Ok honey, you can have one more.
- Kids: Ugh. I’m still hungry. Can I have another one? Pleeeeeeease.
- Mom: No I’m sorry. That’s too much candy.
- Kids: [Insert 10 minutes of tears and tantrums here].
- Mom: Fine! But no more candy.
In the end, they ended up having a bunch of candy anyways! So now I just let them enjoy until it’s time for bedtime reading, without saying NO a million times. Saves the drama, tears, and makes them less obsessed.
#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! I also ditch the candies I don’t love (i.e hard ones that are easy to choke on, tootsie rolls and caramel chews which are terrible for teeth). But given that there’s no trick or treating I don’t have to worry about that this year.
This week I found a pumpkin full of candy from last year in that same cupboard. Had it been within arms reach I can assure you it would be empty.
#4 – OFFER CANDY WHEN NOT EXPECTED.
I then give the girls one candy in their lunch box every day for the next week. or when they get home from school it serves as part of their after-school snack. Here’s the key. I offer it before they ask me. They realize they don’t need to beg, or sneak candy, because mommy is happily doling it out without their request. That takes the forbidden factor out of the treats. And then I might offer another piece with dinner periodically.
#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.
Alll this work is paying off.
Here’s what happens now when my girls are in the presence of sweets.
They take the tiniest bites. They ration their stash so it lasts longer. And get this….they will even take a bite out of a chocolate, wrap it back up and ask to save it for tomorrow. They are learning how to manage their intake already.
IT’S ONLY ONE NIGHT.
My girls went to school with hard-boiled eggs, roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes cucumber and hummus today. So that candy isn’t going to hurt them. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s just one day of indulgence. Or just a few days. That’s why I had to share my tips for managing Halloween candy. They are working and I know they will for you too.
WHAT ABOUT THE SWITCH WITCH?
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.
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.
Oh I am so happy to be reading this because I have done this for the past 10 years with my now 11 year old daughter. Thank you for reaffirming that I am not crazy. It has worked for us too. Yes she loves her sweets still but she doesn’t feel the need to hoard them. This year we are trick or treating in our house going door to door. I will greet her at each doorway in the house with her treat. She liked the idea when I suggested it (phew). The bonus is picking the candy she likes and not having to dump the rest around Christmas time. I just need to remember to buy some dark chocolate too because she doesn’t like dark chocolate so she always gives them to me ?. Tradition is a must, lol.
We do several of the suggestions you have. Except for allowing as much candy as they want to eat on Halloween night. I’ve been afraid that would teach them to gorge/binge eat. Any other thoughts about that?
Great question. I actually see it as the opposite. Withholding promotes restriction which can create the obsession we are all trying to avoid. I always see it as an opportunity to learn that too much of something yummy can also make us feel bad.
I love this idea however I am worried that my 4yr old will eat lots of candy then have awful, sugar fuelled behaviour that doesn’t actually make her feel bad but just me? She gets little treats now and then but hasn’t had much sugar generally so when she does I definitely see a sugar high followed by the low.
Such great and smart advice. Thank you!
Thanks Julia 🙂
Sounds like a good plan! I will def try this out with my kiddos!
Great! Hope it went well.
I love the idea of letting them go crazy on the one day! So this year, we have been to two Halloween activities already and we are going to a 3rd one today. I could have gone to WAY more, but these three were family/friends get-togethers so we wanted to be there. What would you do when they get candy on three different days? Should I let them go crazy on each of those days or make them wait until the actual day of Halloween to go crazy?
Three parties! Your kids must be thrilled. It really depends Kristal on how much there is, how long the party is, what other kids are doing, etc. but would generally follow the same principles.
I totally agree with this, my mum limited and controlled and i stole more at every opportunity and binged throughout my 20s. I let my children decide when they are done and say ues to seconds, and am always impressed at how much self control they have, they arent greedy for the sake of it like I was!!