Seriously, who doesn’t love Halloween? The parties, the burlesque costumes, the CANDY! Even as adults, the thought of this festive autumn holiday makes us feel like….well, kids in a candy store. Surely a fun night for kids of all ages, it also poses a threat to the healthy eating habits parents work hard to establish during the rest of the year. On one hand, we want our children to indulge and enjoy the day, but on the other, we don’t want to encourage an all-out candy binge. Kids Health has put together some tricks and treats (from real parents) to help you walk the fine line between doing the monster mash with your child’s overly stuffed pillowcase, and raining on their (Halloween) parade.
1. Raid, then ration. It’s not Halloween unless your child trudges home exhausted, puts on a scary movie, and dumps out their loot. To start, let your child indulge a bit on Halloween night; they did get some exercise running from door to door, and you want them to enjoy the fruits of their labor. In the following days, limit your youngster’s candy consumption to a certain number of pieces per day and stick to it.
2. Store it, then pair it. One parent suggests storing the candy in the refrigerator or freezer, then pairing it with something healthy such as milk or fruit. After a week or so, your child will start to lose interest because they don’t feel like waiting for the candy to come to room temperature, and when it does, they’ve already filled up on other (healthier) items.
3. Food first, candy later. Nothing will send your child diving head-first into their pile of Reese’s cups like a ravenous appetite. Do them a favor and make sure they have a healthy, balanced, and satisfying dinner before heading out for the night. A full belly will keep them from getting too hungry and they will be less likely to overindulge and end up with stomach ache.
4. Swap it out. Nothing like a little incentive to keep your child’s diet on the healthier side. Offer to trade a majority of your child’s leftover candy for a toy, book, or spending money that he or she might rather have. This allows the child to enjoy candy on the actual day, then trade the rest of it for an item that won’t negatively impact their diet well into November.
5. Use words and actions. After setting limits with regard to candy consumption, explain the reasoning behind those limits so that your child understands their meaning. Also, be moderate in your own candy eating in order to convey that healthy eating is a family affair.
6. Relax. Remember, it’s only one day. Nothing your child eats on October 31st will single handedly undermine their healthy eating habits. Ensure that a balanced eating plan is a regular part of his or her life, and one day will not make a big difference over the long term. Avoid being overly restrictive, as it is likely to backfire and cause your child to build up resentment.