by Mary Anne Burkman, MPH, R.D.. Director, Program Services , Dairy Council of California | Dairy Council of California Blog | http://bit.ly/vTuic4
25. October 2011 - Halloween conjures up fond memories of my two grown daughters – finding or making the perfect costume…debating the look that our carved jack-o-lantern should sport…and, of course, trick-or-treating. Some people might think that with a mother who is a dietitian and a father who is a dentist, Halloween wouldn’t be celebrated in our household, or that we’d be giving out sugar-free gum or floss and confiscate all of daughters’ goodies.
Wrong! My husband and I wanted them to experience this kids’ tradition to the fullest…and that included candy. Sure, there are substitutes that kids like – stickers, small plastic toys, bubbles. One year a dental colleague gave out Flintstone toothbrushes that were a big hit! But in no way do these items negate the allure of candy.
My advice to parents is just relax…lighten up…and use a touch of common sense. Indulging in candy treats on this one special night (and maybe a handful of days after) is not going to condemn a child to a life sentence of sugar addiction. The more focus you put on forbidding children to have candy, the stronger their desire to have it.
With our own daughters we held a typical goodie bag inspection at the end of the evening, primarily a safety check. Then they could each pick about 15 of the pieces they most wanted to keep. The rest of the candy made its way to Dad’s golf buddies or Mom’s tap dance class colleagues. I always suggested to my girls that they eat one, maybe two pieces a day, but I didn’t monitor that. They could eat the candy as quickly or slowly as they chose. My younger daughter, a slave to instant gratification, usually depleted her supply within three days. But then she was done – no begging for more or splurging her allowance on candy bars, licorice whips, etc. And she was fine with that. My older daughter, the planner/saver, would stretch her supply out over about three weeks. She liked to savor. And once I even found a few pieces in a drawer in December – she’d forgotten about them!
If you don’t make the candy a major issue, it’s likely your children won’t either. Keep Halloween in perspective – in no way will you undermine the everyday healthy habits you’re trying to nurture in your children. Kids recognize this is a special occasion and not the norm. I suggest you take pressure off of your kids and yourself – just enjoy a delightful, guilt-free day!
What are some of the ways you handle the Halloween “loot” collected by your children?