Eight Ways to Stress Less About Sugar on Halloween…
The incoming deluge of Halloween candy is nearly upon us! The thought of all those endless sweets can provoke a good amount of anxiety – if Halloween usually finds you stressing about how to handle all the candy before, during and after the big day, it can help to have a plan in place. Here are 8 strategies that have worked well for my clients and for me throughout the years:
1.PRE-HALLOWEEN #1 – HEALTHY HALLOWEEN TREATS!
Throughout the month of October, incorporate more holiday-themed, healthy snacks and treats than usual. These help increase the fun/festive factor of Halloween without piling in excess sugar. Here are some ideas:
- Clementine and Celery Pumpkins
- Raisin and grape spiders
- Skull Skewers (blackberries, pumpkin bread cubes and cheese blocks)
- Whole Grain Pumpkin Bread
- Pumpkin Molasses Muffins
- Witch Fingers Grapes (have you seen this grape variety? SO cool!)
- Kitchen Apple Sauce
- Healthy Twist Apple Crisp
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
2. PRE-HALLOWEEN #2 – DOUBLE DOWN ON NON-FOOD FUN!
- Go apple picking
- Decorate for Halloween
- Create a “Haunted House”
- Carve pumpkins
- Halloween-themed crafts and art projects
3. SERVE A HEARTY, FAVORITE PRE-TRICK-OR-TREAT DINNER
Excess sugar on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster and often leads to dips and spikes in blood sugar which can affect your kiddo’s mood and energy levels. Set your kiddo up for trick-or-treating success by planning an early Halloween dinner that you know he or she loves and will eat, despite all the excitement. Some of the dinners that have worked well for my girls on Halloween night include:
- Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Beans on Toast
- Wholitarian Super Bowl Chili
- Fusilli Cheese and Vegetable Casserole
- Lemon Lentil Tahini Soup
4. HALLOWEEN NIGHT – LET IT GO!
Halloween only comes once a year. If you’ve fed your kiddos a good dinner, you’re already way ahead of the game so try not to stress. It’s really ok to allow them to eat as much candy as they want during trick-or-treating or however you choose to celebrate Halloween. They might surprise you and eat less than you would have thought. But if they do eat a lot of candy, it creates a valuable opportunity where they can experience how overeating sweets makes them feel. This is an important of learning to self-regulate in the long term and it can also be a very helpful way to reduce your own stress when trying to navigate family parties, gatherings and events when sweets and treats are absolutely everywhere. Win-win! So don’t stress. Just look for the teachable moments in these opportunities to talk to your kids about how they feel physically in response to what they ate, so they start making the connection for themselves between what they eat and how they feel.
Let them sort – inspecting their loot and sorting all the candy is more than half the fun! I like letting them sort it into a “keep” pile and a “donate” pile. Here are a few ways to donate excess candy:
- Halloween Candy Buy-Back with your local pediatric dentist. Over 3000 dentists nationwide will give your child $1 for every pound donated!
- Send it overseas as a care package for our troops via Operation Shoebox or Operation Gratitude
- If you are hosting an upcoming birthday party, buy an empty pinata and fill it with the extra candy
- Get a visit from the Switch Witch! Similar to the tooth fairy, the Switch Witch visit your home the night after Halloween and swaps out excess candy for non-food treats. The more candy that gets swapped out, the more non-food treats she brings! (Like craft supplies, art materials, small toys, puzzles and games).
6. REPURPOSE (THIS ONE’S MY PERSONAL FAVORITE!)⠀
Turn the leftover chocolate into a FRUIT EXPOSURE!
Chop up some fruit, food picks, grab your double boiler and some food picks, melt down the extra chocolate and let your kids go to town dipping the fruit in the chocolate. Perhaps this will be the fruit exposure that turns your picky eater on to pineapple, banana, strawberries and raspberries!
7. DOLE IT OUT
Serve a small amount of candy WITH the lunch or dinner meal to help neutralize the focus on sweets. Kids can choose to eat it first, last or any time they choose. This helps offset any fixation on sweets and treats and removes the powerful, not helpful message that dessert is a “reward” only to be earned by eating the “less desirable, healthy” foods served at the meal. It also counteracts feelings of deprivation, removes the potential for food battles over requiring your kids to eat X, Y or Z before they can get dessert, and within a couple of weeks usually leads to a much more balanced attitude toward fun foods – they just become another pleasurable aspect of meals, not the focus of the day.
8. MAGIC DISAPPEARING ACT
What inevitably happens in my house every year is that each of my daughters stores her “keep” candy in a bag or bin in one of our kitchen cabinets (keeping it out of plain sight helps keep it out of mind!) For a few days, they are excited to eat some each day for dessert. After a few days, they usually forget about it. After a few months, I end up finding it in the back of the cabinet and throw it out.
For more tips on feeding kids, grab my FREE guide to reducing picky eating. And stay tuned for my navigating picky eating online course, launching soon!⠀
What other ways work for you to deal with the Halloween candy deluge? I’d love to hear in the comments below…
Have a happy Halloween,