Candy has been a special and fun part of Halloween since Americans first embraced the tradition of trick-or-treating in the 1950s, but the connection between sweets and the holiday goes back even further than that!
If you keep a couple of these tricks in mind, it’s easy to include moderate amounts of treats in your Halloween celebration.
Make a Plan
Nearly 80 percent of parents report that they have a plan in place to help their children make smart decisions when it comes to the enjoyment of treats. Begin the conversation as soon as you start talking about Halloween – whether it’s while you’re decorating the house or shopping for costumes.
Understand Candy Portions
After a night out trick-or-treating, allow children to enjoy some candy that day, then portion out treats into small bags for later. Place two or three pieces of candy representing 100 calories or less in small, clear bags. Then, when you allow your child to have one of these portioned treats in the following days or weeks, they will learn more about balance.
Eat Before You Trick-or-Treat
Have a balanced dinner before hitting the street for trick-or-treating. Teaching your children about balance while allowing room for treats is an important conversation to have not only around Halloween, but throughout the year.
Set a Routine
Parenting research suggests that setting up routines may be beneficial to children, especially when you take into account the child’s perspective. A great way to help your child feel involved in the decision-making process is to let them select when they can have their favorite treats, while you guide them on how to mindfully enjoy chocolate and candy.
Don’t Prohibit Treats
Recent research from Pennsylvania State University found that restriction may increase your child’s desire for treats like candy. Certain children may be even more susceptible to the negative effects of restriction than others. Instead, allow them access to an established amount of treats per day and teach them about the role that small amounts of treats can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle.
Halloween provides a great opportunity to teach children about sharing. Encourage your child to share treats with others, which will ultimately drive an understanding of portion control. You may also consider instituting a house rule for sharing candy as another way to maintain balance.
Savor the Flavor
Talk to your children about slowing down and really enjoying their favorite treats with mindfulness. Minimize distractions while eating and help them bring their attention to the experience of the flavors and textures in tasty treats.
Remember to Brush Those Pearly Whites
It’s important to keep your teeth in tip-top shape as we approach Halloween. The best way to keep your teeth strong is to brush frequently, floss regularly, use fluoride products as recommended by your dentist, and rinse with water or chew sugar-free gum after each meal or snack. In fact, the American Dental Association has awarded its Seal of Acceptance to several brands of sugar-free gum for their role in preventing cavities.
Mix it Up
You can change the nutritional profile of some of your favorite treats by combining a smaller amount with whole grain cereals, dried fruits and nuts to make a fun trail mix.
Enjoy the Night
Focus on celebrating the holiday and spending time with family and friends. Remember that a balanced diet is formed over time and not from one night of eating. All types of foods can be enjoyed as part of a happy, balanced lifestyle – including the occasional treat.