Make All Foods Fit: Halloween Candy Edition

Knowing what to do with sweets, especially around Halloween, can be so anxiety-inducing for parents. We’re here to help once and for all! And check out some candy options we’ve rounded up without artificial dyes.

Make All Foods Fit: Halloween Candy Edition

Written by: Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN

Knowing what to do with sweets, especially around Halloween, can be so anxiety-inducing for parents. You might be thinking, “What will I do with all this candy in the house?” or “My kid is already asking how much Halloween candy they can eat!” Or maybe you’ve found that, every time you’ve tried to manage their candy intake in the past, they only get more obsessed with it.  

What if we told you that your child will have a healthier relationship with sweets if you’re not vigilant about their Halloween candy intake? We know that a parent’s desire to control candy intake comes from a good place: we all want our kids to eat healthy foods! But putting restrictions around foods, especially sweets, actually has the opposite effect.

It may be hard to believe, but it’s true: studies show that, when we try to control desserts, we put those foods on a pedestal, which makes it more likely that our kids will obsess over them and crave them. In other words, restrictions around sweets, like Halloween candy, make those foods seem extra special, so our kids will eat more of those foods (and probably too much!) whenever they get the chance. 

With this in mind, we work hard to #makeallfoodsfit in our homes – and yes, that includes dessert! We allow our kids to have regular access to sweets in a structured way, so that they learn to listen to their body’s cues, self-manage their intake, and ultimately eat sweets in proportion to other, more nutrient-dense foods. We live in a world surrounded by dessert, and children who have regular access to sweets end up eating them in moderation. 

So, instead of dreading Halloween this year and feeling all that pressure to control your kid’s candy intake, look at the holiday as an opportunity for your kid to build their intuition around sweets. Here’s our simple guide to making Halloween stress-free:

  1. Provide a nutrient-dense dinner before trick-or-treating.
  2. During trick-or-treating, stay neutral and interfere as little as possible. We know it’s hard!
  3. After trick-or-treating, have your child lay out all their candy. Pull out anything unsafe for them, and then let them sort it, play with it, and eat “as much or as little of it as they want.”  
  4. Starting the next day, serve a child-sized portion of the candy with their regularly scheduled meals. If they ask for more candy after they finish their child-sized portion, let them know there is no more candy now, but there will be more on the menu tomorrow. Do this every day until their candy stash is gone.
  5. In the meantime, don’t bribe your kid with their candy. We know how tempting it is to say, “Stop XXX or you won’t get your candy.” Kids often act out on holidays because it’s not their normal routine, so using holiday candy or food as a bribe seems like a quick fix. But tricks like these lead to more selective and picky eating and more power struggles in the long run. This is because bribery teaches our kids to eat or not eat something to please us, rather than listening to their bodies. 
  6. Stick to your normal structure and routines on holidays as best you can. Kids need structure and consistency to build healthy eating habits. (We use the Division of Responsibility in our homes!) Kids tend to act out around holidays because it’s easy to lose some of our regular structure. The more you can avoid disrupting your regular routines, the easier it will be to avoid sugar-induced meltdowns and bribing with candy. 

Hungry for more? Tune into our episode all about sweets and treats, How to not lose your mind over Halloween candy, where we talk about how you can make all foods fit, especially at Halloween and around the holidays. And share with us how you’re handling Halloween candy differently this year by using the hashtag #makeallfoodsfit and tagging @meaningfullliving on social media. Have a Happy Halloween!

And…if you’re on the hunt for some new candy options without artificial dyes, high-fructose corn syrup, or any other additives…here’s our top 5 picks. 

  1. Yum Earth Chewy’s – just like starbursts
  2. Yum Earth Giggles – just like skittles (sour and regular)
  3. Yum Earth Lollipops
  4. Unreal Snack Chocolate covered candies – just like M&M’s (plain and peanut) made with crispy quinoa
  5. Yum Earth Gummy Fruits