Simple Tips and Tricks for a Happy (and Healthy) Halloween
Most people wouldn’t think to put the words ‘Healthy’ and ‘Halloween’ together in the same sentence. Is there anything healthy about collecting a haul of candy and treats all in one night?
When it comes to kids however, health goes far beyond the foods we are feeding them or whether or not they have access to candy or other sugary treats.
Raising a healthy child has more to do with how we are feeding them, the behaviors we model around food and eating, and the environment we are creating around meals and food.
Why Your Kids Need the Chance to Eat Their Candy
Halloween is an important time to let kids learn how to self-regulate a higher intake of sweets and foods that they wouldn’t normally eat on a regular basis.
There are simple ways you can help your child feel successful and confident in their innate ability to manage exactly what their bodies need. If you are worried about a higher intake of sugar, treats, and desserts during this time of year, rest assured that holidays like Halloween are not going to ruin your child’s health or harm them in any way.
In fact, having exposure to times like these, where there might be an influx of candy surrounding them, helps them learn how to navigate these scenarios in the future. Supporting your child with positive feeding strategies can help them develop into adults who have a peaceful relationship with food. This is about keeping the bigger picture in mind and implementing an approach that will help your child’s well-being as they grow. This may look like:
Less likelihood to engage in dieting
Feeling more comfortable and confident in their bodies
Able to eat a variety of foods moderately
Decreased risk of binging on or overeating foods like desserts
Long Term Impact on Your Child’s Relationship With Food
So how can you help your child develop a healthy relationship with food over the long-term, especially on Holidays like Halloween? Here are a few ideas:
Check your own food issues and attitude
Kids can moderate their intake just fine and with little interference on our part. Is scarcity created around halloween candy (switch witch, throwing it out, etc). Controlling or restrictive approaches to desserts and candy often stem from a parent’s own inability to trust themselves with eating these foods.
It can be easy to think your child may overeat treats if you struggle with this yourself, and this fear can dictate feeding practices. If this holiday feels stressful for you or being around an abundance of candy creates anxiety, recognize and be aware of these feelings. Awareness can help you from projecting these issues to your children, who still have an ability to efficiently self-regulate their intake.
Stay Relaxed and Neutral
If we make a big deal out of eating candy, our kids will do the same. If we approach candy with a neutral attitude, our kids will feel less obsessive about it, too. Let your kiddos enjoy pieces of candy from their Halloween haul with meals and alongside other more nutrient-dense foods.
Allow your child to decide how much candy they want to eat and don’t put any stipulations on their treats (i.e. “If you eat all your vegetables, you can have a candy”, or “If you don’t eat your dinner, you can’t have dessert”)
Keep the Treats, Leave the Tricks
Many parents may try to hide their kids’ candies or negotiate with their kiddos so there is less of it available. However, taking candy away (either by hiding it, throwing it out, switching it out with a toy, etc) can create a distrust between you and your child.
This can also create a scarcity mentality in a child’s mind when it comes to candy, which can trigger behaviors like sneaking or hoarding candy. Instead, let them know where their candy will be stored and when they are allowed to access it (for example, they can choose a certain amount of pieces with a snack or meal).
Continue to Offer Balanced Meals
Stay consistent with offering balanced and regular meals, and let your child choose to have some of their candy within your normal meal schedule. When parents stay consistent and neutral, kids feel more relaxed about candy, and many often lose interest in it over time.
On the other hand, kids who are hungry or haven’t eaten enough will be more likely to overeat candy. Offer meals that include a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to help fuel their bodies with nutrients for energy and growth. Stick to a regular meal and snack schedule to help your child get adequate nutrition.
Above all, ENJOY this time with your little ones, have fun and relax. If you’re feeling anxious about all the treats and sweets, or if you have unresolved food issues with desserts or holiday foods, be aware of how these might project on your kids. Applying these tips can help you navigate a season of food that may feel more chaotic.
Staying present and choosing to focus on the memories you are creating with your little ones can help you keep the perspective that food is just food (yes, candy too), and there is nothing it can do to harm you or your kiddos.
Have a Happy Halloween!