Halloween candy is gross. It is full of NOTHING good. Unless we happened to Trick-or-Treat in a Utopian food bubble, it is pretty much guaranteed that my kids are not getting candy made with simple and real ingredients like cane sugar, coco, and nuts to name a few. Oh, and forget the peanuts since my oldest is allergic to them.
Yet, just like I am not going to be the rigid mom who makes their kids go to bed on a school night before game seven of the World Series is over (congrats Cubbies!); I am not going to be the rigid dietitian mom who denies her children the joy of collecting as much candy as they possibly can on Halloween.
Our neighborhood is the best neighborhood ever for Halloween. It is a parade of kids from all over the area. Everyone decorates and most decorations are over-the-top with theatrics like strobe lights, haunted mansions, and candy casinos. This year our numbers were down and we only passed out three-hundred CLIF KID Z Bars. Yes, our house has the reputation of being the “nutrition house”. They all thank me later. I do have candy with no artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavors in reserve. Thankfully, there are more on the market this year.
What becomes difficult to navigate is helping my boys manage their candy loot. Obviously they get way more candy than I feel comfortable with them even eating in an entire year. Thinking about all that crap going through their little systems is nauseating.
Oh yeah, AND I don’t want my oldest son with the peanut allergy to feel like he is losing out when he hands over all the candy suspect of peanuts.
What to do?
- The “witch switch?” This seems so deceptive to me so I have never done it. Plus my younger son values candy/sugar way more than toys/things and would really hate that witch!
- Put it away in hopes that the forget about it? This always works with Eric, my now ten year-old but, has never worked for Noah (6 years old). Again, the sweet tooth thing is real. I do put it out of site so they have to ask for it though.
Rather than be the “candy police” I opted for a win-win third option.
3. I let them exchange candy for money OR extra screen-time on the weekends.
Each piece of candy is worth one dollar or one minute of screen-time. This exchange rate is much higher than what the dentist’s office is offering and gets their attention. Plus, the dentist sends this candy to our troops. I don’t know about you but, I don’t think our troops need this candy any more than our children. I compost it or my husband eats it after we are all in bed.
Eric eagerly hands over all peanut-containing candy for screen-time and an additional ten pieces. This exchange sends him off happily enjoying only half the bag over the next few weeks with thirty-six extra minutes of screen-time in his “pocket”.
Noah is a bit more reluctant and thoughtful in his exchange. He too opts for screen time but, recently confirmed by both skin and blood test to NOT have a peanut allergy, he keeps some peanut candy. He does however exchange about half of his candy for a total of twenty-six additional minutes of screen time on the weekend. He also has less total candy than Eric because he is more uncertain and skips some intimidatingly haunted-looking houses. I don’t blame him!
No, I don’t love them even eating any of this candy but, making it forbidden would only make it more tantalizing and later provoke guilt for my boys. I also know that like years past, they will bore of the candy before finishing what they have left. Come the weekend they will also begin exchanging for more screen-time and eventually forget about it, even my sweet-tooth six-year old.
I have had to compromise on my own food values for this occasion but, I also know that they will poop most of this right out, burn off the sugar, and they are watching me. Why is watching me around candy important? Because I don’t like it for myself so I don’t eat it, and because leading by example is one of my most powerful tools in influencing my children I am going to bank on them some day losing interest in eating candy just of the sake of eating candy.