I like to think that most days I do a fairly nice job of balancing the “real” world with the “dietitian” world, but on candy-laden holidays like Halloween, introducing a little moderation can be a bit tricky.
I try to follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time I am focused on making quality choices and eating nutritious foods, twenty percent of the time I enjoy my “treats”.
On Halloween, even my little kids bring home enough candy to keep my dentist in business for years. The problem with Halloween and candy isn’t the night itself, but when there is so much candy laying around that it lasts for months. Use this opportunity to talk to your kids and explain to them that candy, like many of our other favorite treats, is a “sometimes” food. “Sometimes” foods aren’t foods we eat every day because they don’t give our bodies the nutrients we need to grow and stay healthy. We enjoy “sometimes foods” on occasion, and because we enjoy them only once in a while, it makes them that much more special. Letting “kids be kids” and having children eat their Halloween candy is great and all, but when the indulgences become a constant focus from now until Easter, something must change.
This is where the Switch Witch comes in. In the book by Charity O’Neill-O’Kane, the Switch Witch (a good witch) comes to the house after Halloween and switches extra candy for something fabulous. The switch can be anything from a coveted toy or book, to a great family activity such as the zoo, aquarium or family skate night.
Once the Halloween “loot” has been gathered, have your kids go through and set aside a predetermined amount of candy (in my house it is a small zip-top bag). The rest of the candy goes in a separate bag and is set outside for the candy-loving Switch Witch. (To “dispose” of the extra candy, you can donate it, bring to a social occasion, or simply throw it out).
Another option for kids (especially those resistant to letting go of their hard-earned candy) is to have the Switch Witch buy the candy. A price tag on each piece they turn in just might be the motivation they need. You can set the price depending on how many piece of candy they have. Helping to teach your children about instant gratification (candy) versus delayed gratification (that coveted book) is a wonderful lesson. If they give up a little instant gratification, they will see a greater reward in the future.
So what will the dietitian be giving out this year for Halloween? Glow sticks (for trick-or-treaters) and glow-in-the-dark fangs (for daycare). Halloween is about more than candy. Enjoy the spooky holiday without testing your pancreas!