Parents are preparing for what is undoubtedly the most enjoyable holiday for our children: Halloween. We arrive at the next stage of trick-or-treating after spending far too many hours gathering and sorting mounds of candy: the next few hours—or days—when our children would rather consume the treasure they obtained than genuine meals. And, while we want to ensure that our children are getting adequate nutrients, it is OK to allow them to enjoy the benefits of their labor. Parents, they’ve spent all that time gathering candy; it’s alright to let them consume it.
Aside from allergens and safety concerns, I know as a parent I’ve spent far too much time trying to make my children forget about Halloween sweets. We are concerned about our health, cavities, and a variety of other issues. However, putting our anxieties onto our children might cause more harm than good.
Negative food associations might result in unhealthy food connections and poor eating habits. According to research, when particular meals are “limited” or “forbidden,” children frequently struggle to manage the amount of food they consume when the restricted item is present. This leads to habits such as overeating and eating while not hungry. In summary, this strategy is frequently detrimental to the parent’s intended purpose.
“Our society places a moral value on food, whether it’s good or bad, and research shows that adults can acquire sentiments of shame and guilt from excessive eating, which we don’t want to pass on to our children,” Philadelphia clinical dietician Yorine Belizaire, MS RD told Parents. “We don’t want our children to believe that consuming poor meals makes them awful people. Talking with our children about moderation, the nutritional components of food, and allowing them to enjoy all meals is critical in assisting them in developing good relationships with food as adults.”
And don’t be so eager to hide or threaten to throw away the candy. From personal experience, this leads to food theft. No parent wants to tidy their child’s room only to discover a cache of Snickers wrappers hidden beneath the bed. The objective should be to offer our children a safe environment in which they may enjoy themselves without the worry of not being able to consume anything they want.
There are methods to communicate to our children about enjoying their Halloween candy (or anything else for that matter) while avoiding negative sentiments about their intake. “Parents may check their children’s language,” recommends Belizaire. “Instead of stating, ‘don’t eat too much, it’s terrible for you,’ we can address the worry, ‘eating six caramels before the night is not healthy for your teeth,’ or ‘consume all of those Skittles, and you won’t have room at morning for foods that give you energy.'”
Belizaire also suggests discussing the distinction between ordinary foods and festive dishes with your children in an age-appropriate manner. “We require certain things to fuel our bodies on a regular basis. Other meals, such as Halloween sweets or birthday cake, are consumed less frequently for pleasure or celebration.”