With the start of Fall brings on a season of holidays and treats. Some people welcome this season while others dread navigating this season with their health goals in mind.
When I first began working as a dietitian, I had a client who was struggling to trust herself around food. It was nearing Halloween, so she agreed upon an "experiment" where she would let her children (elementary aged at the time) eat as much Halloween candy as they wanted. She wouldn't intervene, but just observe. To her surprise, her kids did not eat all of their candy in one sitting. Once they realized they had plenty, and wouldn't be stopped by their parents, they naturally stopped eating the candy after a few pieces. And thus began her journey of learning to have a positive relationship with food while pursuing her health goals.
So, are you telling me to let my children have unlimited amounts of candy?
While this tactic can indeed work and sometimes is the best situation, it doesn't always work for every family. Here are some tips you can incorporate to help navigate all the candy leading up to Halloween this year.
For young children:
Make Halloween themed foods before Halloween. For example you can draw a pumpkin face on a cutie, make peanut butter crackers with pretzels in the shape of a spider, or look on Pinterest for millions of ideas.
Offer non-candy options for trick-or-treaters.
For example, popcorn, pretzels, stickers, bubbles
This helps make things like trick-or-treating fun with a little less focus on candy, not to mention allows options for kids who have allergies to still enjoy trick-or-treating.
Prepare and eat dinner before trick-or-treating. Then if you want to allow them unlimited access to candy, there is a better chance they can self-regulate and stop naturally after a few pieces.
If your child has not been exposed to candy much, there is a higher chance they will over-eat it. In this instance, you can help them by making sure they eat mindfully, not too quickly, and have some water or milk while eating. If he or she seems very out of touch with eating mindfully, you can suggest a new, fun activity for a little bit to give their tummy time to digest and not get a tummy ache.
Expose yourself to your "favorites." If you deny yourself access, and then one day are put in front of your favorite candy, there's a pretty high chance you will eat much more than if previously exposed.
When eating candy, or any foods for that matter, savor every bite. Often, we tend to eat in a hurry, or while scrolling on social media, and next thing we know we've eaten twice as much as we intended with half as much satisfaction. If you're going to eat a fun food, you may as well enjoy it too!
Pay attention to your mindset. Before every action is a thought. The messages we tell ourselves about food are very important. Guilt over eating is not a good motivator!
There is not just one way to handle Halloween, but many good ways depending on your unique circumstances. Try engaging in some seasonal activities so not all of the hype is given to candy. Make sure to nourish yourself well, especially if you over-do it one day. Continuing to nourish and fuel your body well can help prevent continuing to over-do it.