With Halloween being tomorrow, we’re bombarded with candy galore. But what we’ve also been bombarded with is articles and advice about how to restrict and limit the candy, because heaven forbid our kids eat “too much” of it. After all, it has [gasp] sugar in it. And isn’t sugar toxic and bad for them? (And isn’t it bad for us adults when we eat it too?)
Sugar is NOT toxic.
It is also not “bad” for you, your kids, or anyone else on the planet. For reasons why, revisit this previous post I wrote a couple years ago.
Through a child’s eyes
Think back to when you were a kid. Remember the excitement of Halloween – getting all dressed up in your costume, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood for candy, and coming home and sorting through your stash. It was so much fun!
What do you think it does to Halloween when we teach kids to be afraid of the candy, rather than just letting them be spooked by the ghosts and spiders? It sucks the fun out of the holiday. Our kids are already sent so many messages about “good” and “bad” foods to eat, and taught earlier than kindergarten that being fat is the worst thing that could happen to them. It’s time that we stop sending these harmful messages – because, news flash, it’s not making kids any healthier.
You know what the kids do instead of practicing this so-called “moderation” you’re imposing on them with the Halloween candy? They hide and hoard the candy, and they secretly binge eat it when you aren’t looking.
A better solution
Instead of telling your kids that candy is bad and sugar is toxic – let them freaking enjoy the holiday. Let them pour over their loot and eat as much of it as they want on Halloween night, and even the next day. That’s part of the fun of trick-or-treating.
And after the holiday is over, this now becomes a learning opportunity. Fellow RD, Julie Duffy Dillon writes here about why we should all ditch the Switch Witch this Halloween. She points out:
This shame-based food relationship produces an adult who feels out of control around certain foods. For many, this develops into bingeing and secret eating. These are typical eating disorder behaviors.
In another article that I share with my personal network every Halloween is from another RD, Ellyn Satter. She says:
When he comes home from trick-or-treating, let him lay out his booty, gloat over it, sort it and eat as much of it as he wants. Let him do the same the next day. Then have him put it away and relegate it to meal- and snack-time: a couple of small pieces at meals for dessert and as much as he wants for snack-time. If he can follow the rules, your child gets to keep control of the stash. Otherwise, you do, on the assumption that as soon as he can manage it, he gets to keep it. Offer milk with the candy, and you have a chance at good nutrition.
You see, we all have to learn how to manage sweets at some point in our lives, so they don’t manage us. There’s nothing to be afraid of. The key is to teach your child how to have a relaxed relationship with it, just like every other food. Hard to do when you are anxious about it yourself. This may be an area that you need to do some of your own work in terms of finding peace with food.
A great starting point is to let your kids eat the darn candy this Halloween and do the same for yourself. Adults like candy too!