It’s that time of year again! Halloween can be a fun, festive time for children and parents alike, with costumes, decorations, and the promise of sweets. However, for parents, concerns or questions may arise about how to best approach the “candy situation”. In this post, we will explore some insights and tips to help you and your children enjoy Halloween while fostering a healthy and mindful approach to candy (and food in general)!
1. Don’t Police Everything They Eat:
Refrain from creating strict rules, policing, or restricting your children’s entire candy consumption. It has been shown that kids that have regular access to sweets will eat them in moderation. In contrast, kids that are deprived of access to sugary sweets are more likely to eat without regard to their hunger cues, often, eating more, and becoming more preoccupied with sweets. It’s important to let your children enjoy their Halloween candy without guilt or fear. You can trust them to make their own choices and monitor their own hunger cues. This helps them build a sense of control over their own eating habits.
Note: You CAN still set rules or boundaries around when they are eating or where, but these should align with other food rules. For example, if your kids normally eat all their food at the dinner table, you can still hold this rule with eating halloween candy.
2. Practice and Teach Mindfulness around Food:
Mindfulness involves being present and fully aware of the experience. You can practice this with your kids, or even on your own! Encourage your children to savor the flavors and textures of their candy, teaching them to eat slowly and appreciate each piece, to notice the looks, smells, and feelings in their mouth. This could turn into an activity of learning about types of candy, helping them sort out their candy into categories according to flavor, or help them pick the candy they think tastes the best!
Mindfulness can also help bring awareness to how they feel when eating! If you let them enjoy and explore their candy and they happen to get uncomfortably full, it’s okay! You can create a learning opportunity to discuss how they feel and about listening to their body’s cues!
3. Lead by Example:
You know as a parent that kids are constantly influenced by their surroundings. They mimic everything! When it comes to eating patterns, this is the same! Children often learn from their parents’ behaviors and attitudes toward food.
You can lead by example by showing enjoyment of candy and practicing mindfulness around it. In contrast, if you restrict, demonize candy, or call it “bad” or “junk”, in front of them, your kids will pick up on it.
4. Teach and Educate About Food:
Halloween is an excellent opportunity to educate your children about different types of foods. Discuss the different food groups, explain where candy falls within the groups and how the body can use it for energy. Help them understand that candy can also be enjoyed alongside other nutritious foods. Implementing examples of this can help them understand this as well! For example, when they eat candy, serve it alongside a glass of milk, or eat it alongside other snacks or meals.
5. Focus on the Experience, Not Just the Candy:
Encourage your children to find joy in the entire Halloween experience, including dressing up, going trick-or-treating, and spending time with family and friends. Emphasize that the joy of Halloween goes beyond just the candy!
Other Resources to Check out:
Ellyn Satter Institute: https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/family-meals-focus/30-halloween-candy/
Effects of restriction on children’s Intake: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4578816/