It’s Halloween! Are you saying Boo! or Booooooooooo?
Like many health-conscious parents, I find Halloween to be a bit cringe-worthy. But I also see how excited my kids get about dressing up and heading out with their friends to go trick-or-treating. Halloween and its candy are part of our culture, so rather than fight it, I try to make the most of it.
Halloween is a great opportunity to teach your kids about healthy eating.
Teach Kids About Mindful Eating
Before trick-or-treating, talk with your child about how many pieces of candy they can eat when they get home. How many pieces would it take to make their Halloween feel special? What feels reasonable for both you and your child? Doing this is helpful because it brings attention to what we put in our mouths. It slows us down, which enables us to more fully enjoy what we are eating. We are often satisfied by smaller amounts.
You can take it a step further too. Ask your child which candy is their favourite and why. Is it the flavour, the texture, or something else? Are there candies that they don’t like? What if they only kept their favourites and got rid of everything else? Read more about mindful eating.
Dentists often “buy back” candy. And some families are visited by the “Switch Witch,” who flies away candy and replaces it with a small toy, book, or other non-food treasure. These are just a few examples of how you can avoid candy overload while maintaining the fun of Halloween.
Show, Not Tell
Kids often learn best by seeing and touching. Telling a child that candy is high in sugar and, therefore, not good for them is likely to have less impact than showing them how much sugar is in it. Most Halloween-sized chocolate bars have 8 to 12 grams of sugar. That’s about 2 to 3 teaspoons. Multiply that by 3, 4, 5 pieces, and it adds up quickly.
Take the Emphasis Off Candy
It’s easier to get your child to eat less candy if they simply don’t have it. I entice my kids to come home from trick-or-treating early by having fun games and food waiting for them and their friends. Last year’s jack ‘o lantern quesadillas and vomiting guacamole pumpkin was a hit with both kids and adults alike!
Put it Away Once Halloween is Over
There really is something to be said for “out of sight, out of mind.” For example, my 9-year-old just found candy he’d stashed in his closet last Halloween. Once he put it out of sight, he completely forgot about it. Obviously, not all kids are like this. The other option is for you to store it and give it out at a rate that feels right for you and your family.
Remember, Halloween is one of 365 days of the year. It’s what we do overall that counts.