Two weeks before Halloween, my neighbor showed up on my doorstep with tears welling up in her eyes. Her kids’ favorite part of Halloween was the most stressful for her: What to do with that huge influx of candy?
I’ve got a simple answer.
Around this time, I get a LOT of questions about Halloween, how much candy do I let my kids eat? What do I do with the leftovers? My child will not sit still to eat dinner, how can I get them to eat something healthy before they eat candy?
My tips below may surprise you, but I have compiled my 4 practical tips to handle the Halloween candy, and feel better in the process. Do you have some of your own? Let me know!
4 Practical Tips for a successful halloween
My #1 tip for the night is the hardest to follow: don’t worry about it. Sounds easy, right? When we think about Halloween, it is one night out of the many, many other days and nights we have through the year.
Kids typically eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks each day, and there are 365 days in a year, which comes to 2,190 meals and snacks. So don’t let one night’s candy become more important than the other 2,189.
A child’s intake varies daily. When we give too much weight over a single day, we risk creating unnecessary stress for ourself.
FOCUS ON PROVIDING NUTRITIOUS FOOD THE DAY OF.
Dinner can be stressful in general and on Halloween, kids are really excited about getting out the door and getting candy. Dinner can be an afterthought. When I think about my 5 year old and our halloween experience last year, sitting still for dinner was never an option.
Instead, I focused a little more than I usually do on providing her with filling nutritious snacks throughout the day, placing more emphasis on our afternoon snack, since I knew by the time the excitement started she wasn’t thinking about food.
I try to provide a balanced snack, making sure to include protein and healthy fats. Some of my favorite options are Green Muffins or Zucchini and Oat Muffins, hummus and cheese with veggies or crackers, or full fat yogurt with fruit.
Offer a substantial amount of food at this snack, while still following the division of responsibility.
LET THEM EAT ALL THE CANDY.
Have I lost you yet? If you have been following me for a while, you know I follow Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility. Satter has THIS great post about Halloween and candy and I follow her advice.
Here’s exactly what I do:
The night of Halloween, I let my daughter eat as much candy as she wants, I also offer her a glass of milk or some fruit with this, and do the same the next day.
Then, then every so often I offer candy at snack times, paired again with something more nutritious, and a piece or two at occasional mealtimes.
The goal is that candy is not a “forbidden food”. Focus again on the more nutritious foods throughout the day, remembering the goal is to teach our children how to handle all foods, candy is not “good” or “bad.”
We need to teach our children that food doesn’t have a moral value.
YOU ENJOY HALLOWEEN TOO.
I invite you to enjoy the Halloween candy with your children. Sit with your child at the end of the night. Talk about the candy.
When I was growing up, my mom had my sisters and I make graphs and charts rating our candy and counting it. Use the candy as a fun tool for learning!
Can you sort the chocolate? Do you have more skittles or nerds? And focus on the other aspects of Halloween as well – Pumpkin carving! Dressing up! Eating pumpkin seeds! The possibilities are endless!
And there you have it! 4 steps to feel better about all the Halloween candy.
Want to feel less stressed at every meal time, not just on Halloween? Check out my free guide: 4 steps to help your child try new food for practical tips on creating more joy at mealtimes.