The Candy Conundrum- Reducing Candy Overload in Kids on Halloween
I’m so excited that Halloween is just around the corner. I love seeing all the pumpkins carved, everyone dressed up and just having a blast with the holiday! However, with the day, also comes the onslaught of candy! And if we’re being totally honest… it may have even started before that with those huge boxes of candy being in the grocery store since August! I have a lot of parents asking me what strategies they can use to make the holiday fun but also keep the amount of candy and sugar in check. So I wanted to share with you two strategies that I suggest to families to help solve something I like to call the Candy Conundrum. How to keep the fun and excitement of Halloween without your kids eating a pillowcase of candy!
So let’s get into the Candy Conundrum! These are the most common concerns I hear from parents:
- I want my kids to have fun with the holiday but not to binge on candy over the next month
- If I restrict the amount of candy they get, will they be more likely to revolt and sneak and eat it on their own creating a candy obsession?
- I want my kids to eat healthy foods but will one night really hurt them if they go hog wild on candy?
- My child has food sensitivities and food allergies.. how do I keep Halloween safe and fun for them?
These are all great questions and I want to stress that each family is different . Find a solution or strategy that works for you …and go with it.
One Strategy I have used is called the Teal Pumpkin Project. The Teal Pumpkin Project was created by the Allergy Research and Education Group with the goal of raising awareness of food allergies and promoting inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.
Food allergies in Canada are becoming a growing public health issue. Did you know that 300,00 Canadian children under the age of 18 years have food allergies. 2 in 100 children suffer from a peanut allergy. The incidence of food allergies is highest among children (under 3 years of age) with close to 6-8% being affected. The even scarier part is that these numbers are continually on the rise. This also doesn’t account for the kids suffering from food sensitivities. So it’s important to keep these kids in mind when celebrating the holidays.
The idea is simple. Start by placing a teal coloured pumpkin on your door step. This indicates that you have non-food treats available. You can head to the dollar store and pick up some fun Halloween stickers, bouncy balls, money, bookmarks, playing cards or other non-food based items. This also helps to give kids a choice when they are trick or treating. Some kids will pick the non-candy item instead and help create variety in their trick or treat bags.
The second strategy is called The Switch Witch. The Switch Witch is based on the idea that a magical witch flies around on Halloween night looking for candy to trade and feed to her cat. Children put the candy they would like to trade in a basket at the end of their bed and the Switch Witch will trade for it in the middle of the night. The trade could be a toy, something to wear, a book or maybe some money. The reason I like this tactic is that it creates a healthy relationship around food and sweets. The goal is aiming to get kids to WILLINGLY trade their candy for something in return.
Before you head out trick or treating, discuss the concept of the Switch Witch by reading your kids the The Switch Witch Poem. After you’re all done trick or treating, have your kids sit down and sort their loot. Have 3 categories:
1. Things they love
2. Things to trade with friends or siblings or The Switch Witch
3. Things they just don’t like and want to trade with The Switch Witch
Once the candy is sorted, place the candy they want to trade the Switch Witch in a basket in their room. During the night, the Switch Witch will take their candy and trade for something even more valuable! By allowing kids to choose their favourite candies and then trade the ones they don’t want or like, it will obviously reduce their intake of candy. It will also help to promote the idea that can have and enjoy the candies they want, but not just consume candy because it’s there. Many families have also found kids will be less likely to sneak candy because the whole family is on board with the amount they are left with. Want to trying implementing the Switch Witch this Halloween?
Those are the two strategies I suggest to my patients to help reduce the Candy Conundrum. I would love to hear any of your solutions! What have you found that works with your family on Halloween to reduce the candy load?
Rather Watch Than Read? Check out the Facebook Live Video!