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But Courtney, it’s impossible to have a healthy Halloween with kids! That’s zero fun and then everyone is miserable, it’s easier to just try again another day/week/month. Whoa Whoa Whoa!!! There are so many ways to have a healthy and FUN Halloween with Kids, read on for tips you can incorporate with your family.
Continue to serve meals and snacks as your normally would. Often times I see families opting to skip snacks because of the extra calories their child will likely consume from candy. Skipping snacks, or worse meals, can actually lead to a child overeating sweets or candy because their base nutrition needs haven’t been met. By keeping a routine you’ll be sending the message that the sweets are just another food, and not something we should ‘save up for’ or ‘to really enjoy when they’re being served’. That language and mindset actually pushes our child to perseverate or obsess over the sweets and if further restricted you can see them start sneaking sweets or rejecting more of their normal foods in favor of treats.
When I work with my clients I always encourage them to use sweets as part of a meal instead of something separate. I know the common train of thought is that kids should get their good food in first and earn the sweet. This puts the sweets on a pedestal and pushes that scarcity and obsession mindset forward. If your child asks for candy or sweets, serve them out of the package as part of the meal or snack. Always balance out what you’re serving so they’re getting good blood sugar control. Want to see this in action?? Check out this video
Having an easy plan that you can implement is ALWAYS my favorite tip when families want to feed better. It’s so tempting to save our energy and just figure it out when the meal or snack comes up, to just use what we have laying around, but that’s how we end up in food ruts serving our kids the same things OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Lots of families may think that Halloween is just a one day thing and it doesn’t make sense to have a food plan for that day or the surrounding days, but think back. Does mid way through October feel like the flood gates have opened and the next thing you know it’s New Year’s and you’re thinking you have to get things back on track?? YOU AREN’T ALONE! Instead of having a repeat of that scenario, let’s be really intentional and plan out our attack. When you have some meals and snacks planned/scheduled and prepped for when your kid asks for candy or take out, you can easily let them know if it’s on the menu or not, and how you can incorporate what they want in the next few days. Maybe they really want to have some of their halloween candy – you can let them know that they can pick out a few pieces to have with dinner tonight, then take it out of the wrapper and place it on the plate with the regular dinner. Coming at candy requests from this attitude puts you in control but also allows you to be considerate of their wishes. We aren’t caving, we are helping mesh their desires with your plan in a meaningful way. Just take a minute and imagine how that would feel to not huff ‘finee but only one piece’ because you’re so sick of them asking. It would feel freeing, and like you’re really in sync with your kids. I want that for you.
Research shows that playing with your food can be a very useful tool in helping kids eat more variety and accept more healthy foods. You can do this so many ways around Halloween. Maybe it’s making a Halloween gingerbread house, and embracing the mess and candy to test out their structural skills. You could also do some fun learning and exploration with pumpkins (size, shape, how the insides feel, smell, etc). Cook up some different kinds of squash and compare/contrast with your kids. What about grouping and graphing the candy they get from trick or treating?! That’s so fun – and you can have them rank them from favorite to least favorite!
Halloween is such a fun time of year, and it’s absolutely possible to have a healthy Halloween with your kids! If you’re wanting to raise your kids to have a healthy relationship with food and their body, plus know they’re getting good nutrition, use these four principles to transform your holidays. For more guidance on navigating the holidays with kids, be sure to get my Holiday Guide here.