5 Dietitian-Recommended Tips for a Healthier Halloween for Your Child
Halloween is just around the corner!
Have you thought about how you’re going to manage treat season with your children?
As a parent, I’m sure you have felt the stress over needing the “right” approach. You feel you need to limit how much candy your child eats. You worry that having too much sugar will affect your child’s energy levels or even lead to stomachaches. Thanks to social media, mom guilt has run rampant and everyone thinks they’re an expert about what your child needs… Or should I say, shouldn’t have.
However, limiting the amount of candy your child eats at Halloween time can actually do more harm than good.
So it’s time to ditch that mom guilt and let your child enjoy this holiday. No worries mama, giving them some Halloween candy is not going to hurt them.
Right now, your child is a sponge, so it’s the best time for them to learn self-regulation over restriction, as many of us know where that can lead.
Make Halloween fun again with my top five tips to help your family navigate this sugary season:
1. Deciding what is served
The “Division of Responsibility in Feeding” by Ellyn Satter shows us who is responsible for what when it comes to food. According to Satter, parents or caregivers are responsible for deciding what is served, where it’s served and when it’s served, while children are responsible for deciding if and how much they eat.
On Halloween: Give your child balanced meals or snacks throughout the day so they’ll have some nutritious food in their system. If their tummies are satisfied, they might want fewer Halloween candies after trick-or-treating too! Win-win.
After Halloween: Decide what and when your children eat. Now, here is where I really encourage balance with all “treat foods.” Include treats with regular meals to take the “treats” off a pedestal and encourage self-moderation. I suggest deciding on a routine with Halloween candies that is the same as other treats – for example, you could provide Halloween candy of your child’s choice with one snack and one meal per day (along with your regular healthy options).
2. Avoid controlling how much Halloween candy your child eats
Allowing your child to take the reins on the “how much,” supports their appetite regulation and prevents challenges from arising. Restrictions lead to behaviours such as sneaking and hiding foods and in the long term, leads to guilt around enjoying food and issues regulating how much they eat as adults.
3. Let your children learn from their experience
Too much Halloween candy can lead to a stomachache - we know that but they don’t yet. This mistake can actually be a great learning opportunity!
If your child eats too much candy and gets a stomachache afterwards, they will be less likely to “overindulge” next time. It may also take a couple of times for them to learn – and that’s okay too. Allowing them to learn the limits of their own bodies is one of the best things you can do to support their life-long mindful eating habits.
4. Use neutral language when it comes to Halloween Candy
Common phrases for foods like Halloween candies include “junk foods,” “bad foods” or “treat foods.” Whether the name has a positive or negative association, it can impact how your child sees these foods.
Calling candy “bad food” or “junk food” creates feelings of guilt around this option. It may even increase their desire and as you know, kids love to test boundaries!
Also, calling candy “treat food” or “yummy food,” puts thems on a pedestal. This can create more desire for them and increase the need to overeat when they do have access to them.
Try simply referring to these foods by their names and avoid using any positive or negative terms to describe them.
5. Do food role modelling
Children are great observers. They learn so much by watching.
Food role modelling is one of the best strategies to teach your child life-long eating habits and support a positive relationship with food.
Around Halloween, you can use food role modelling to encourage healthy habits and associations. When you enjoy treats in moderation, your child also learns moderation.
Be careful what you say about food and yourself. They’re always listening.
Your child hears statements like “I really shouldn’t have more” and learns which foods to feel guilty about eating. They pick up on these feelings and can become fearful of certain foods or looking a certain way.
Demonstrating a healthy relationship with all foods when they’re young encourages a great relationship and body image when they grow up.
Create healthy eating habits with your family
Proper nutrition supports you and your family.
One of the best ways to raise thriving children is by creating a positive environment for them to explore food.
As a new parent, it can be a challenge to know what your child needs and how you can support their growth and development.
Push Mama’s one-on-one nutrition consultations provide mamas, like you, with a convenient way to feed yourself and your little ones. Our registered dietitian helps you construct a balanced nutritional plan that makes you feel good about what your child is eating and makes meal times more enjoyable.