Why My Kids Will Get Halloween Candy: Teaching Self-control
So my husband and I can eat it, of course! Ha-ha! I remember my best candy always mysteriously disappearing if my candy bag was left in the living room too long while not under my watchful eye. My full-size candy bars and anything with chocolate and peanut butter were sure to disappear first. Such fond memories of Halloween costumes, school parades, and trick or treating.
In the past few years there seems to be a war on good ole trick or treating and Halloween candy by health professionals. My fellow dietitians are on the frontlines of the battle to promote non-candy, and better yet, non-food, items as the new treats of choice. You know, bags of pretzels, perhaps raisins, stickers, and little knick-knacky toys that will lose their novelty after 2 days. The kind that are on par with gift bags at birthday parties. I get the premise behind the good fight and believe strongly in instilling traditions and holiday celebrations not solely focused on food. But the line must be drawn somewhere.
As a parent to two young children, I say “no” to a lot: Cheetos, Happy Meals, Go-gurts, juice boxes, and even fruit snacks (except while flying or long road trips). But I won’t say no to my kids enjoying their Halloween candy. In fact, it provides a great opportunity for teaching and modeling healthy habits and behaviors around candy and unhealthy indulgences without completely forbidding it:
- They learn how to have temptations around or in the house without always giving in to them or being allowed to always have them. In other words, they don’t always get to have what they want just because they see it.
- Candy or certain foods aren’t forbidden, but are a treat to be enjoyed in small amounts, on occasion. I use this same philosophy with my adult clients.
- Defined moderation, with parental supervision, models balance. I will continue to control serving/portion sizes and practice my authority to say “no, that’s enough”, teaching my children appropriate portion sizes.
Whether or not you agree with this approach is a moot point. I’m merely offering a different point of view than many of my colleagues that reinforces moving away from the “all or nothing” approach all too common in our culture, especially when food is involved.
As adults, overindulgence on one hand and forbidding or over-restricting on the other hand isn’t healthy. The same goes for our kids.