The amount of candy your kids collect on Halloween can be one of the scariest parts of the night for some parents. What’s a parent to do with all that candy?! Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you’re feeling this way.
My biggest tip: Trust your child and know that it’s only one day! One day out of 365 days in the year. Yes, your kids are going to be excited and yes, it does seem like a lot of candy all at once. But don’t let the thought of all that candy scare you from letting yourself and your kids have a fun night together.
Follow these 5 tips on Halloween to feel confident in how you approach candy with your kids:
- Provide balanced meals and snacks the day of trick-or-treating (this holds true for adults just as much as kids). If kids begin the evening feeling hungry, they’re more likely to want to start eating the candy and fill up on that instead of a meal. And, let’s be real, they’re not going to be able to focus on a meal anyway after getting back from trick-or-treating. Rather than waiting until afterwards to eat, serve dinner right before going out for trick-or-treating.
- Let your kids get their fill of the candy. I know, it sounds scary, but kids are much better at being intuitive eaters than we are as adults. How often has your kid asked for another cookie, only to eat just half of it? While you may be worried your kiddos will go crazy around that much candy, they may surprise you! To help them listen to their bodies, ask them to check in with how their tummies are feeling.
- Reassure them candy will be there tomorrow. This helps them understand that the candy isn’t going to be restricted or disappear after one night; they don’t have to enjoy it all at once! Throwing away candy without telling them or making it disappear can lead to your kids losing trust in you, seeing candy as something that is “bad,” or feeling restricted in what’s allowed. Kids are less likely to binge on the candy when they know it’ll be there later and isn’t going to be restricted.
- Put candy away until you want to offer it again. While your kids get to decide how much they have, you’re still in charge of when you offer it. Pull out the candy again at a time you feel comfortable offering it, such as with a snack or meal. If your child asks if he can have some Halloween candy, rather than saying no, let him know when he can have it next. You may respond with, “Sure, you can have some at lunch today.” You’re staying in control of when you offer the candy, yet your child knows that candy is coming and is learning that all foods can fit.
- Lead by example and keep sweets neutral. It’s tempting to tell your kids that candy has too much sugar or that it’s not healthy for them. Instead of making candy the enemy, make it a neutral food. This takes it off its pedestal and turns it into an unbiased, non-issue food. Lead by example and simply say things like, “I’m not hungry, so I’m done eating the candy for now.” This helps your kids see candy as something that can be enjoyed and to stop when satisfied, knowing that it will be available later.
Kara Hoerr is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in family and childhood nutrition. She’s originally from Iowa, but has called Madison home for the past 7 years. When she’s not helping families and individuals end mealtime battles or quit diets for good, she’s usually baking or cooking in her kitchen (she started making sourdough before it was the cool thing to do pre-Covid!), running or biking on the Madison trails, or relaxing with a good book. She never expected to start her own business, but here she is with Kara Hoerr Nutrition. She offers nutrition coaching and online courses to help moms (and dads!) out at the dinner table (including more help on how to approach holiday sweets and that leftover Halloween candy!). To learn more or to set up a free discovery call, email Kara at [email protected], or find her on Instagram.