For parents who are not big fans of sugar, chocolate, or artificial colors and flavors, Halloween presents a real dilemma. You don’t want to be the heavy and spoil the fun, but on the other hand, you also may not be eager to deal with a kid who is hyped up on sugar for weeks or even months after the big day. Here are some ways to handle that gargantuan pile of candy:
1. Let them eat all they want for a certain period of time, then throw out the rest. Share your opinions about health and nutrition with your child, and collaborate together on a time frame that feels relatively okay for both of you.
Expect major indulgence during that time. You are not allowed to make even one tiny little comment like “Are you eating candy again?” or mutter as much as single “I told you so” under your breath. The beauty of this option is that your child gets to experience his own tummy ache, sugar crash, headache, brain fog, or whatever. And when you stay out of it, he’s got nowhere to place the blame except the candy.
By the way, I asked my dentist about this, and she said a few days of total indulgence is not likely to lead to tooth decay. It’s far more damaging to bathe the teeth in juice, soda, coffee with sugar, or hard candy on a regular basis. So you’ve got the green light from her to use the approach.
Oh, and if you go this route, you might feel better about it if you focus on serving ultra-nutritious meals during that time.
2. Let them have one piece a day. When we did this, the candy became a major focus of every day—which kind, when would they get to eat it, could they have just one more piece today, pretty please, Mom? I was the candy controller, which was a job I didn’t care for. It may deprive the child of getting to experience the joys and perils of overindulgence, and thus learn to regulate themselves. Some kids will lose interest or forget to ask at some point, and then you can just pitch it.
3. Do nothing. Just keep serving nutritious meals and snacks, and let them work it out on their own. The idea would be to fill ’em up with tempting and tasty healthy stuff, thus leaving less room for candy and giving their bodies more nutrients with which to process the junk. When my kids were little, I was too much of a nutrition and control freak for this to work for me, but I put it in the list for those of you who are more laidback and trusting than I was.
4. Buy them off. Some parents pay money, and some exchange toys or fun activities for the candy. This can work pretty well if the payoff is big and exciting enough. I met hardly any resistance when I made the offer a day or two after Halloween. When they are getting sick of candy anyway, a new toy or trip to the aquarium looks pretty appealing.
5. Teach them the possible effects that candy could have on their bodies, moods, and concentration. Tell them you know that they will figure out what feels best for their bodies, and let it go. Invest your energy in being a good role model and preparing nutritious meals instead.
6. Substitute healthier versions. Sunspire makes tasty chocolate, Panda makes yummy licorice, and there are lots of other options at your local health food store, including vegan gummy bears!
7. Argue about it every day until their trick or treat bucket is empty. Tell them their teeth will rot if they keeping eating all that candy. Try to make them feel guilty for liking sweets. And let me know how that works out for ya!