Halloween is the spookiest time of year. With costumes, decorations and other things that scare you or throw you into a land of make believe.
Halloween is also a great time for kids to learn how to listen to their bodies.
You might feel spooked by that statement and you wouldn’t be alone.
A lot of adults struggle with the large amount of candy and chocolates that are accumulated while trick or treating and even bringing so much candy and chocolate into the house, so you can give it out to the trick or treaters can be overwhelming.
But this is why it’s such a great time to practice listening to your bodies. This is one of the few times so much candy and chocolate is in the same place at the same time.
I remember pre-kids buying a bag of those Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and destroying all 30 of them without another thought. I was into diet culture then and had an all or nothing mentality. Now my relationship with Halloween candy is so much different.
We get almost 200 kids at our house trick or treating, so I love taking advantage of any of the early sales. That means keeping boxes and boxes of Halloween candy in our house for at least a month prior to Halloween. The candy doesn’t go untouched but no one’s binging on it or feeling out of control around it.
Yep, you read that right. No one. Not even my kids and yes, they know it’s in the house.
So what can you do to make Halloween candy less scary?
Treat it like all your other food
When you treat the Halloween candy like it’s special, you and your kids believe it’s special but other than the fun shapes or different packaging, most of the Halloween candy/chocolate is available year-round. So it’s not really even a limited edition. When you think about what to do with the Halloween candy, think about what you do with all the other food in your home:
- Put it in the pantry or cupboard with the other foods.
- Add it to snacks and meals as you would any other food option.
- Remember that food has NO moral value.
Share the experience
A lot of parents confess to “stealing” Halloween candy in the dark of night. 🦇
What if instead of eating it after you hope they’re asleep you shared the experience with them?
While enjoying candy together talk about the exciting day they had.
- What were the best parts of this year’s experience?
- Who had the best house?
- What was the most creative costume you saw?
- What was the scariest/funniest thing today?
- What do you remember from previous Halloweens?
Create more availability
I know what you’re thinking,” MORE availability?? That’s the opposite of what I want.” There’s something called habituation that happens only when something becomes familiar.
When a food item such as candy or chocolate is put on top of the most perilous mountain and the only way to get it is through eating all your vegetable, 5 bites of supper or throwing a temper tantrum then habituation isn’t likely to happen AND you want habituation to happen.
Habituation is the opposite of feeling like your kids are addicted to sugar. It helps you feel cool and calm when candy or chocolate are offered because you know they’ll eat other things too since it isn’t a super special event to have candy or chocolate without having to do a bunch of amazing feats.
Ways to try upping the availability:
- Unlimited amounts for the first day or two.
I know this is terrifying!!! But by letting them learn how eating too much candy makes them feel or encouraging them to pay attention to their bodies while eating (without judgment) you can actually help them learn an important skill to help them navigate situations like this for their entire life.
When you are constantly putting restrictions on how much sugar your kid can eat you are providing external control. What do you think might happen when your kid gets access to candy and chocolate when you aren’t around to provide that control?
Likely overeating to the point of discomfort, because they haven’t had a chance to experience for themselves what overeating feels like or how to know based on physical sensations when they should stop eating to avoid overeating.
We do unlimited access on Halloween night and the day after, in addition to the other nourishing meals they typically get. Then I start including more limited amounts with meals or snacks. If I notice an increased focus or almost obsession with the candy/chocolate, I might bring back unlimited access for a meal or snack or just offer it more frequently.
- Try saying yes more often.
In the days that follow your kid will likely request their Halloween candy. Instead of jumping to no, consider thinking about how you could say yes while setting parameters.
For example: Yes, let’s have 3 pieces of Halloween candy with (insert snack or meal here).
Even if that meal/snack isn’t for a few hours, your kid heard yes and will take that as a win.
When you say no it creates fixation on the Halloween candy and makes it seem unattainable, having the undesired behaviour of constantly asking for Halloween candy. Depending on how many years you’ve been saying no to requests for Halloween candy, this may take a bit of time for them to believe that the answer will be yes with parameters.
Talk about satisfaction.
We are often so afraid to admit that Halloween candy can provide satisfaction. We’d rather condemn ourselves for eating it or make excuses to others about why we’re eating it.
Try this instead:
- Talk about your favourite kinds. Share which ones you used to get as a kid trick or treating.
- Ask your kids which candy is their favourite and why?
- Are there any they haven’t tried? Why not?
- What’s their least favourite candy? What’s your least favourite candy?
- Encourage them to try different kinds with the acknowledgement that they do not need to finish any of the candy that is opened.
- If you’re reading this and you don’t have kids, reflect on this on your own or with a loved one. You can also explore memories linked to different Halloween candies or experiences.
Be intentional for yourself.
Get the joy and satisfaction from eating the ones you want to and being present while you enjoy them.
I know one of the suggested tricks out there is just to not buy your favourite Halloween candy so you won’t feel tempted to eat it, but honestly, how has that worked for you?
It didn’t work for me, I would just eat it anyways, feeling unsatisfied and like I ate something that was only ok when I could have had something amazing!
So, eat your favourites and enjoy them instead of trying to feed that craving with something else to restrict your intake, there’s a good chance you’ll end up eating your favourites anyways.
Practice eating them intentionally and making a conscious choice to sit down and enjoy them.
Lastly, remember to have fun this Halloween and that your worth is not defined by how many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups you eat.
With kindness and compassion,