Simple Halloween Nutrition Tips For Kids

This blog was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.

Have candy after meals and with snacks

According to dietitian and family therapist Ellyn Satter, author of “Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense,” it’s fine to let kids have a few pieces of candy a day, either as dessert after a meal or as a sit-down snack. You can include a piece of candy in their lunch if they want.

This encourages mindful eating rather than distracted eating in front of the TV or on the run. Eating small amounts of treats should help kids learn to savor them and enjoy them more so they’re satisfied. Having these treats after a meal or snack means there will be less room for candy, plus the protein and fat will help slow down the sugar rush. If they are asking for snacks at bedtime, offer a healthy option that they can follow with a small piece of candy (though if sugar makes them hyper, bedtime might not be the best time for treats).

Let your kids know that if they’re able to stick to these rules, they can have control over their candy stash. If they can’t, the parent should take charge. Make sure you communicate the plan before trick-or-treating so everyone knows what to expect.

Keep candy in a tall kitchen cupboard

Out of sight, out of mind. This holds true for kids and adults when it comes to food. Don’t let kids keep candy or other food in their rooms. Food stays in the kitchen, and the less healthy options should be hidden in a cupboard, not out on the counter for all to see (and grab mindlessly).

Let them pick theirĀ favorites and ‘make it worth it’

Have your kids pick out the candy they love and give away the rest. Learning to choose treats you really enjoy is an important part of healthy eating. You want your kids to savor and enjoy the treats they love rather than go for volume and not really take pleasure in what they’re eating.

Focus on healthy living, not weight

When you talk about food with your kids, focus on making healthy choices rather than controlling weight. Research suggests that commenting on children’s weight can increase the likelihood of unhealthy dieting as well as binge eating and other eating disorders.

Use Halloween as a growth opportunity for the family

Think about how you want your family to approach food and treats, and consider the example you’re setting with your eating habits. Do your kids see you making your way to the candy bowl every night? Practice the same balanced food habits you want your kids to have as adults. I’m willing to bet you’d all be healthier and happier as a result.