How to help kids manage sweets and candy, yet still be healthy during Halloween and other holidays throughout the year.
Are you up to your ears in Halloween candy? Yeah, we are too. Like it or not, sweets season is officially upon us! By the time the Halloween candy is gone, we’ve got pumpkin pies and then it’s candy canes and countless other holiday sweet treats. So what’s a healthy parent to do? Here are a few ideas for how to manage sweets and candy during the holiday season:
Swap it out
Have you ever heard of the switch witch? Apparently she visits unsuspecting houses and swaps out healthier treats for crappy ones. Some brave parents even pay money for each piece of candy the child hands over or substitute a toy for the entire candy stash. Where does the candy actually go after that? Why the office candy bowl of course – where treats magically disappear without worry of calories, preservatives or artificial dyes! Full disclosure: I have never done this (although I have been known to toss whatever is still left after a few weeks).
No matter how old your kids are, it’s important to set some type of limit on candy consumption. Obviously, it’s going to be different depending on the age of the kids. When my kids were younger, I limited it to one or two pieces a day. Now that my kids are older, I don’t try to micro-manage the situation too much but I do ask them to limit it to 2 pieces after a meal. And call me the worst parent on the planet, but I let them have candy for breakfast on the day after Halloween. They must dream about candy all night long and they wake up completely obsessed! Oddly enough, I find that they get over the candy-mania after a couple of days and all-in-all they self-regulate pretty well.
Same goes for the rest of the holiday-season dessert overload. Teaching kids how to enjoy treats in moderation, as part of an otherwise healthy diet is key!
Take a break
So you let your kids go a little crazy on sweets for a while. Then you’ve got to cut back, which can be hard because sugar is a bit addictive in case you haven’t noticed. First, we cut the candy because that’s not something we keep around the house all year long. Then we cut back on having sweets after every meal. How about some fruit? Then, sometime after the holiday sugar season is finally over, we usually have a sweets-free week for the whole family. Getting off sugar completely is a great way to reset your system. The cravings go down and after that we can get by on homemade cookies and healthier treats. But then Valentine’s Day comes along….
Emphasize healthy eating
The last part of the story is that it’s important to model healthy eating habits for your kids. So don’t take away their candy and then down a couple of Cokes in front of them, OK? Our kids see us cooking healthy foods, reading labels and watching what we eat. We include veggies with every meal and the fruit bowl is always open for snack time. Talk to your kids about healthy foods and empower them to take charge of their health. Offer up some healthier snacks and do what you can to make healthy food fun!
My youngest son’s birthday is 6 days before Halloween, and I always view that as the beginning of sweets season. Now add all the Halloween candy and we’ve got a major sugar buzz going on around here. Bottom line is, I don’t try to deny it but I do limit it and yes, we’ll be having a sweets-free week in January!