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Snack-Sized Advice from The FEED Nutritionist: Halloween Edition

Should you let your kids eat as much Halloween candy as they want or play the switch witch (i.e. swap their candy for a toy or book)? The answer…it depends.

Do what is best for your family, but think about where your choice is coming from, advises Willow Jarosh, registered dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. “It’s helpful for parents to check in with their own anxiety about sweets and investigate what the switch witch stands for in your mind,” says Jarosh; The excitement of Halloween is about trick-or-treating and collecting candy, so the message could come across as, “it’s okay to be excited about getting candy, but it’s not okay to be eating it.” If you’re worried about the kids going through candy too fast, Jarosh suggests “taste tests.” Ask them to find a sour candy, a nutty candy, and a chewy candy, and “get them engaged in the process of how it tastes and feels in their body.”

If you’d prefer to limit the amount of candy your kids consume, find a middle ground by asking them to pick ten or twenty favorite pieces, and give the rest to the switch witch. Since restricting foods often makes kids (and adults!) want them more, consider offering candy sometimes throughout the year to lessen its appeal.

For children with food allergies, intolerances, or other medical or physiological concerns, using the switch witch allows them to trick-or-treat and stay safe. They can either select the candies that they’re able to eat or give them all away in exchange for safe candies and a special toy.

In my house, my kids eat as much candy as they want when they get home from trick-or-treating and then they can have two candies with a meal every day after (they always get tired of it after a while and start forgetting to ask). My 6-year-old son told me the other day that he remembers eating lots of candy on Halloween, and then at one point, halfway through a Milky Way bar, he realized it didn’t taste as good anymore, so he stopped. I’m happy that he’s learning to listen to his body and know when he's done.

No matter what you end up doing with the candy, enjoy the sweetness of being with your family!

Happy Halloween!

Meet FEED's Resident Nutritionist:  

Caroline Kaufman, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Caroline Kaufman is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with an A.B. from Harvard and an M.S. in Nutrition from The Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy. Her advice has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including Health, CNN, Prevention, Self, Shape, Oprah, New York Magazine, PBS Parents, and Sirius XM’s Doctor Radio. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
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