With Halloween right around the corner, I find myself again wondering how to handle this year’s trick-or-treating bounty at home. After the Halloween Night dump-and-trade when the kids can eat what they’d like, in past years we’ve then traded some in to the dentist for prizes, donated some to soldiers, written to the Switch Witch to request a visit (she comes and takes the candy in the night and switches it for a toy), or doled out the candy a piece or two per day until it’s gone. I have yet to be brave enough to let my kids have free reign with their candy to gorge on or ration out as they choose.
Mostly we stick to our standard rule of “all in moderation,” allowing a piece or two per day until the candy is gone, as long as the kids have also had healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables that day. Preferably the sweets are part of their afternoon snack, as we try to avoid tying treats to a meal as dessert except for special occasions (birthdays, eating out, an occasional ice cream shop trip, etc.). To help with that, we also don’t keep many sweets or junk foods in the house, so holidays like Halloween or Easter present a particular challenge.
For us, ice cream is almost entirely just something we get at the ice cream shop, cookies are what we bake (so we know what’s in them) when we want to do something fun together and treat ourselves with something sweet, and each meal (and at least one snack) has a fruit or a vegetable (or both) as part of it to balance everything out.
But even with teaching moderation and setting clear rules for how much and when, my kids drive us crazy by still obsessing over their candy! Constantly “wishing” for more, talking about it, trying to decide what candy they’ll eat next – it makes me wonder if there’s some other approach we could use so that they weren’t so focused on the candy (and the eating of the candy).
How do you handle Halloween candy, as well as junk food and sweets in general, in your house in a way that teaches your kids responsible eating? Do you limit the sweets and junk they eat? Do you limit sweets and junk to particular times of day (snack, dessert, etc.)? Do you keep cookies or sweets in the house? Do you do dessert only after dinner, or only after you finish your dinner? Do you not do dessert?
How do you teach your kids healthy eating habits, including the ability to indulge without overindulging? Let us know in the Comments section below!