Halloween night is full of fun and candy for the kids and craziness for the parents! While it is a grand time, it throws your evening schedule into frenzy! Should we eat dinner before or after? How much candy should I let my kids eat? Should I get rid of the candy after so many days or let my kids eat it till we run out? With childhood obesity on the rise, many parents are concerned about how many sweets there kids are ingesting, and for good reason. Well in my opinion, one night of trick or treating will not make your child fat nor make you a bad parent! However, the holidays will be in full force from here until Valentines Day. With each holiday bringing its fair share of sweets, here are a few tips to help you balance out the fun of the holidays with the sweet overload.
Tip 1: Have a Plan
With your child’s help, make a plan for dinner. Feeding your child a healthy dinner is one key to a successful night. A hungry kid plus tons of candy equals a sugar intoxicated monster! Kids will overeat on candy and ultimately not be hungry for dinner. Also, make sure he or she is well hydrated. Kids get overheated in costumes while they are running around. They are having fun and not concerned about their thirst.
Tip 2: Set Limits in Advance
Decide on how long your night will be. Have a plan on how long and how many houses you will visit. Most importantly include your child on making this decision. This will help avoid the “I don’t want to go” meltdowns.
Tip 3: Agree on a Candy Consumption Limit
Have a plan on how much candy your child can eat that night and each day thereafter. One to three small pieces is a good limit per night. Be a good role model and set this limit for yourself too!
Tip 4: Provide Healthy Snacks
Make sure you have healthy snacks available and in sight for your kids. A bowl of cut up apples, or fruit salad as a center piece is a better idea than a bowl full of candy. Place the extra candy out of your child’s vision. If they see it constantly sitting there on the counter or shelf, of course they will want it.
Tip 5: Teach and Model Moderation
Do not forbid candy! The more something is prohibited or restricted, the more your kid will want it! Teach them how everything should be eaten in moderation.
Tip 6: Do Not Attach Emotions to Candy
Do not give candy as a bribe, reward, punishment, etc. Teaching kids that food is linked to emotions is a set up for disaster and eating disorders in the future.
Tip 7: Begin Some New Family Rituals
Most kids (and adults) associate Halloween with lots of candy. Set new family rituals such as pumpkin carving, scavenger hunts, etc. so your kids have other good memories to associate the holiday with.
Tip 8: Get Moving
The weather is fantastic right now and may not be for long. Enjoy the outdoors before it gets too cold and get your kids moving. Whether it’s playing in the yard, helping pile up leaves, etc., just get your kids moving!
Bottom line: Go into Halloween with a plan so you don’t set yourself up for failure. Involve your kids in the planning so they feel included. Stick to your plan, but let your kids have fun! Its one night, and they are only small for a short while! Happy Halloween!!
Estelle L. Benoit, RD, LDN