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Ahhh Halloween. It’s SO MUCH FUN to put on your costume, head out into the cold, and Trick-or-Treat around the neighborhood. Our little guy has gone Trick-or-Treating for both of his Halloweens, though he’s still too little to know what’s going on, or what the fuss over candy is all about. So far, we’ve dealt with the candy by just adding his stash to the bowl we were handing out from (after taking anything that looked super yummy of course!). For parents of kids old enough to understand and to to actually want their candy though, there is a common fret at Halloween – what to do with all that candy! As health-conscious parents, most of us want to know how to deal with all those Halloween treats?! Let me tell you a secret:
If we freak out about the candy, it says that there’s something to freak out about, when there really isn’t. Food is just food. And while candy certainly isn’t going to win any nutritional awards (if there even were such a thing), it’s not worth agonizing over.
We don’t want to pass on our good/bad food ideas to our kids. We don’t want them to think they’re “bad” for eating a lot of “bad” food. Candy tastes good, we all know that. And it’s fun to indulge in some every once in a while. As long as we’re not letting our kids stuff their faces with it constantly, it’s totally fine to let them have what they want occasionally. One day of un-restricted candy intake isn’t going to turn them into sugar-fiends or make them suddenly unhealthy. If anything, it will actually HELP their relationship with food, to know that it’s okay to eat these things.(See how I typically approach “managing sweets“.)
Odds are, no matter how much candy they eat on Halloween itself, there will still be plenty of leftovers. Most of us don’t want our kids to eat unlimited candy for a whole week straight, so what can we do to manage the extra candy?
Here are 4 ideas to help you decide how you want to handle the candy mountain:
In this idea, the Halloween Fairy or Switch Witch comes that night to trade the kids’ candy stash for a small toy, kind of like the Tooth Fairy exchanging their tooth for some cash. I never heard of this when I was a kid, and I think this is a fairly new idea, but it’s a pretty cool one! (Update: I wrote about a post about it here, with some ideas for what the Switch Witch can bring!)
Another idea is to let them pick out a certain number of their favorites that they want to keep, while getting rid of the rest. This helps them think through which ones they actually LIKE, versus just eating candy for the sake of eating it. We keep the ones that bring us the most joy, and discard the ones that are just “meh”.
The ones they keep can then be handled in whatever way you’re comfortable with. Maybe they have all of them the next day, or maybe you allow them one piece every day for a week. To each their own. There’s no right answer!
As for the ones they don’t keep, you can either throw them out, donate them (some groups will send them to troops overseas), or even sell them! I’ve heard there are dentists that will buy back your candy. I don’t know of any near me that do it, but see if that’s a thing where you live!
I’m not saying you should hide their candy from them without telling them where it went! That would be mean. I’m talking about putting the candy into a big Ziplock bag or covered bowl and putting in a cabinet where it’s not staring them in the face every time they walk into the room.
The key here is to let them know that it’s there, and that if they want some, they can always ask for it. I like to allow a piece to have with a meal or snack occasionally, but figure out what works for you.
You’re bound to be asked fairly frequently for the first few days, but eventually, it’s out of sight and out of mind and they might even forget about it. My mom’s friends used to tease her about the stash of candy they found in our coffee table that had been there for almost the whole year. We knew it was there originally, but totally forgot about it when it wasn’t tempting us 24/7.
A novel idea, I know. And this one does depend on the age of your kid(s). But if you think they’re old enough, try asking them for their input. If there’s a ton of candy and you don’t want to keep all of it, let them know that, and see what ideas they have for decreasing the stash. They might surprise you!
No matter what method you go with, know that a little bit of candy in the overall picture of a kid’s diet is no big deal. Letting them have it without freaking out about it helps to set them up with a positive relationship with food. Sure, we want to keep the majority of our kids’ diets healthy and nourishing foods. But there is always room for some treats. In fact, it’s healthy!
And if you want some more help on the food relationship front, either for yourself or your kids, there is a ton of great stuff in my Diet Mindset Makeover course that can help! It’s all about repairing your relationship with food, and getting away from a good/bad food mindset so that you can finally eat healthfully and not drive yourself crazy in the process. There’s even part of each section dedicated to helping your kids develop this positive food relationship! Check it out 🙂
As for the candy, I’ve already had a couple Reese’s Peanut Butter cups myself! What’s YOUR favorite candy?