Moderation: Keeping Halloween Sweet

Halloween is supposed to be fun for kids. So, it’s a real bummer for them to have to deal with stern restrictions during the one time of the year when they are literally swimming in candy.

Why not use Halloween as an opportunity to teach your kids the concept of moderation? You’ll actually be supporting a positive habit that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

“Halloween is a tricky time for parents who manage what their kids eat,” says Dr. Marco Coppola, Chief Medical Officer. “Ultimately, you’ll have to use your best judgement. Consider your child’s personality and the eating habits you’ve already instilled in them when deciding on your approach to moderating how much Halloween candy your child can eat and when they can eat it.”

According to a survey conducted by the National Confectioners Association, nearly 80% of parents have a plan for moderating their child’s consumption of Halloween candy. If you don’t have a plan, or your plan hasn’t been effective in previous years, consider these tips:

  1. Don’t let candy be a substitute for healthy food or snacks. On the day of Halloween, be sure to feed your child a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, give them the same snacks that they would eat on any other day. Keeping their regular food schedule reinforces the importance of good nutrition. Let the candy be an extra treat. If your child has diabetes, consult your doctor about how to handle Halloween treats.
  2. Set a limit on how much candy your child can eat at one time. Setting limits helps kids understand the importance of moderation as well as delaying gratification. They’ll see how great it is to be able to enjoy their treats for days or even weeks.
  3. Encourage mindfulness and personal responsibility. Depending on your child’s age and personality, you might consider letting them set the rules. This is a great way to teach them about personal responsibility. They may follow their own rules better than they will follow yours. But, be sure to monitor how well they are sticking to their commitment.
  4. Don’t store the candy in your child’s room. Regardless of how strict or lenient your rules are, letting your child keep all of their candy in their room is a bad idea. The temptation to eat more than they should will likely be too strong for them to resist. You certainly don’t have to lock it away either. Place the candy in the kitchen or another location so that they know you are monitoring how much they are eating.
  5. Buy back or trade something for your child’s candy. If your child has struck the jackpot on Halloween and you want to reduce the size of their haul, consider buying it from them or letting them trade it in for something fun like a toy or video game. They may agree that they have more than enough candy and will be happier with money or something special. This is also a good idea if you have an overweight or obese child. These options are more compassionate than simply not letting them eat the candy they’ve collected.
  6. Be a positive role model. It’s likely that your all-time favorite candy might be in the goodie bag. Or, you may have leftovers from the candy you’ve been handing out. It’s important that you follow the rules you’ve set for your child and model good behavior.

Get creative when making a plan to set limits on how much and when your child eats their Halloween candy. Also, be sure to talk with them about the importance of moderation so they don’t feel that the rules are unfair or that they are intended to punish them.

Enjoy Halloween, and make sure your kids do too!

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