healthy families blog

Halloween Candy


Halloween Candy

People have been asking me all week if I allow my daughters to eat Halloween candy. “Of course!” I exclaim without hesitation. Everyone is surprised that a dietitian is so relaxed about something as unhealthy as candy. Candy is part of the real world, and I need to be realistic about the foods my kids will encounter in their lives, so the best approach is to show them how to have a healthy relationship with all foods.

All year long, I work on teaching my daughters how to handle treats and I feel like holidays—especially Halloween-- are the final test of how competently they can deal with having tons of sweets available to them. We usually have a portion controlled dessert with a family meal twice a week, and about once a month, I serve an unlimited amount of a sweet like cookies or chocolate with a glass of milk at a snack. I make sure to maintain the feeding structure at meals and snacks so that I plan the menus and the schedules and my kids decide how much to eat from what I’m serving.

On Halloween I maintain our regular meal and snack schedule and I allow my daughters to eat whatever and however much of their candy that they want. It is a holiday and I want them to enjoy it and participate in all aspects of it. I do not believe in micromanaging Halloween candy except for looking it all over in the light at home before kids eat any and removing potentially unsafe items (i.e. choking hazards, allergens for allergic children, wrappers that show signs of tampering such as tears, pinholes or an unusual appearance) and removing any food that is not commercially wrapped. I will let them have as much candy as they want at their snack the following day, too. I’ll serve it with a glass of milk to help myself feel better about the nutritional composition of the snack. After that, we will resume our routine of having dessert twice a week at family meals and I will let them have a piece from their Halloween stash for dessert.

They may eat a lot of candy, or they might eat just a few pieces. I will be relaxed about it either way. Eating lots of candy one day, or even a few days, out of the year will not affect their health or make them fat, so I am not really concerned about it from a nutritional standpoint. I am more focused on the parenting aspect of handling the treats. Halloween represents a great opportunity for kids to learn to manage candy--if we parents handle the situation well ourselves. 

Be Healthy,

- Jessica