THE HALLOWEEN CANDY DILEMMA
I know I am not alone when I say I really struggle with the Candy Issue.
Potato chips. Pretzels. Snickers. Twix bars. Sour patch kids. Candy corn. Smarties. Jolly Ranchers. Twizzlers.
Our kids love it. We love and hate it. They overindulge. We overindulge. We hate the effects that it has on our kids when they eat it. The hyperactivity. The fatigue and lethargy. The surprise allergic reactions.
I love Halloween. So do my kids. BUT. I also know I DON’T want to have my kids (and myself frankly) maniacally bouncing around on sugar highs and lows for the week or so after Halloween is done. Plus having every member in the house sick with a cold from overdosing on sugar. On the flip side I don't want to be that kind of parent that make such a big deal of my kids NOT having these kinds of food that I actually make it way more appealing to them in the short and longer term.
So what do we as parents to do?
I’ll be honest, it’s a work in progress for me and my family. I’m still trying to figure out some strategies of my own and what works for my kids. Below is a list of the top 4 things I’ve either tried or will be trying this Halloween to see what works. Hopefully they can be helpful for you and your family.
Top Four Ideas for Managing the Candy Stash
SET SOME GROUND RULES. I’ve found it helpful to negotiate the candy rules from the get go. Depending on the age of your kids, you can also include them as well. Make it a game. Decide how much candy your kids get to collect and keep. (Hint: a pillowcase might be slightly too big and could quite possibly last a full year until next halloween). Decide how long the leftover candy will live in your house after Halloween. Let’s face it. Leftover candy is a temptation for the whole family. So having some rules is good for everyone.
2. WHAT YOU GIVE IS WHAT YOU GET. You may not be able to control what your kids get from other people when they go out, but you can choose what YOU will give out to kids who come trick or treating at your house. Give the things that you would like your kids to receive. Give healthier candy. Smart Sweets Gummy Bears, Made Good granola bars or balls, Justin's Peanut Butter Cups, Nomz Energy Bites, Free Yum bars, Pressed by Kind bars, Surf Sweet Organic Jelly Beans. Or be totally radical... give stickers or a game!
3. CANDY SWITCH. This year I am experimenting with the game called "The Switch Witch". I let my kids trade in their candy for something else they might like e.g. a new book or a toy. I've told my 4 year olds that if you call upon the "Switch Witch" she will come in the night and take your candy and replace it with a treat of their choosing. Now, this only worked for one of my kids. Naomi is all for it and has picked a fun toy. Scarlett on the other hand said "heck no, I want me some candy mom". Last night the girls and I did a little meditation, said a few words and told the Switch Witch what Naomi chose. The girls are not only excited about Halloween but also to see if the "Switch Witch" does indeed come to our house ;)
4. LET THEM EAT CAKE! Or candy in this case. Instead of viewing it as “bad”, make it a real treat. Make it an opportunity to share a moment with your kids when you all enjoy your chocolate or chips of whatever it is, mindfully. For my kids, I emphasize that mindfulness element of Halloween. We acknowledge the (candy) bounty - and are grateful for what they have and what they can give.
As a holistic nutritionist, I sometimes/often stress myself out thinking about what’s in the foods that my kids eat. And that is never more true than at Halloween - when the spectre (pun intended) of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), artificial colours & artificial flavours and High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) looms large.
But then I take a breath. I remind myself that what I’m really trying to achieve with my kids is balance. I am instilling healthy habits and empowering them to make healthy choices in the longer term. And that I'm doing the best I can - whether that means switching out the candy for something else, choosing healthier candy, candy alternatives, or somewhere in between.
Share with me any tips and tricks that you’ve tried for Halloween that may or may not have worked with your kids.