Halloween is right around the corner and for the little people in your life that means one thing: candy. And lots of it.
Despite my persistence in teaching my kids about sensibility and moderation, when Halloween or party time nears my efforts are fruitless. They are just as likely to sugar binge as any other kid (sigh).
Although I shudder at the thought of turning my kids into sugar addicts — in my ideal world we would all crave almond butter and carrots — I am realistic about the temptation-filled world we live in. But I know the price I pay for letting them over-indulge — sleepless nights, tummy aches, dentist visits and sugar addiction — so I try to face candy season prepared and ready for battle. The truth is, we all have the responsibility to control our kids’ consumption, with sensibility and moderation.
So here you have it: my tips for surviving the sugar high from trick-or-treating this Halloween.
1. Feed them first
Don’t even think about sending your kids trick-or-treating on an empty stomach. Make sure to line their stomach with a filling meal of whole grains, vegetables and lean protein — how about coupling my salmon spinach burgers with the perfect oven fries and a side salad? The fuller they are the less likely they’ll feel like going bananas on lollipops.
2. Teach by example
Do you eat a lot of candy? If you do — and don’t want your kids to follow — don’t eat crap in front of them! Tell your kids about a time you ate too many sweets and had a terrible tummy ache later. Empower them to enjoy the holiday, but not to down candy in the same way they would water. Talking through experiences can help your child make better, more grown up decisions. And if your kids do eat too much? Ask them how they honestly feel (without being patronizing). Remind them that next time they may want to eat less and save more — for the sake of their happy bellies.
3. Send them off with small bags to fill
This one is a no brainer: the smaller their collection bag, the less they can collect. Whatever you do, don’t send your child out with a large shopping bag. Here’s a really interesting study on people served bad popcorn in bigger buckets. People consume more from a larger bag than they do from a smaller bag. This rule is true for plate size for meals too!
4. Create rules around candy consumption
Just because they’ve collected it, doesn’t mean they have to eat it right there and then. Let your kids enjoy some of the fruits of their endeavors, then ask them to save the rest for another special time. We have a candy shelf at home and all the extras get stored for later. Kids secretly crave for you to make rules for them because it is so hard to be self-disciplined at an early age.
5. Choose candy selection wisely
Personally, I go for sucking lollies like lollipops over easier ones to eat too many of like gummy bears. They typically have the same amount of sugar but the lolly gets savored longer — although I cringe to think about those teeth when they bite!
6. Fake it while you can
When my oldest son was very young he thought raisins were candy — because we treated them that way. Seize the opportunity while your kids are young to teach them about treats, but give them healthy ones that train their taste buds early.