On October 31, just let your kids eat their darn Halloween candy.
Disclaimer: I’m not talking to parents of kids with food allergies or any other serious medical condition for whom candy-eating is verboten.
I am talking to the rest of you. You know who you are. You’re well-intentioned because you don’t want your kiddos to have Halloween candy because candy is bad for them. And! Not only is candy bad for them, but today’s candy is super duper bad for them because toxins! And chemicals! AND PROBABLY GLUTEN!
I will wait for you to stop clutching your pearls at the idea of your little sneauxflakes eating cellophane-wrapped pieces of POISON from the DEVIL.
(I didn’t mention HFCS! And red dye! And natural flavors, whatever the heck they are!! All of those things are right there lurking underneath the smooth candy coating! Probably IN the smooth candy coating, even.)
If you can still read these words through your side-eye, let me explain.
My own kids drink organic milk on the regular and have never even sniffed conventionally farmed produce. I bake all of my desserts from scratch to avoid the horror of processed foods. I even used to bake the family bread until I had so many children that I would literally never leave the kitchen, so I started adding organic ancient grains to my mortgage-rivaling Whole Foods grocery bill. NUTRITION MATTERS TO ME.
You know what else matters to me? Not giving my kids a weird complex about food.
I realize I have sort of done this by not letting them drink soda. My oldest is that kid at a party who drinks all of the Sprite as soon as his mom leaves. I gave him $15 to take to a birthday party the other day in case he wanted to buy extra snacks at the venue, and he spent it all on Mountain Dew. Clearly, I have made some mistakes.
I want to teach my kids that moderation is key and that even junk food has a place in our lives. Also I have a wicked sweet tooth and I want to have access to a million tiny Halloween Almond Joys.
Here are some mistakes parents make when they put draconian limits on Halloween candy:
- Teaching kids that they should eat candy as part of their regular diet. This is EXACTLY what happens when you decide to let your kid eat a piece or two everyday. Suddenly it’s February, and they are STILL eating fall-themed Reese’s PB cups in their lunches. Like that’s suddenly NOT bad for their teeth?
- Teaching hypocrisy: You want to clutch your pearls about candy on October 31, but you let kids eat things like Gogurt and Goldfish and apple juice EVERYDAY? What matters most is the nutritional choices that you make and model on the regular, not the holiday splurges. Should I probably ever be eating cranberry sauce that still has lines on it from its BPA-coated can? NO. Am I going to climb up on my soapbox and insist that my grandma gets it off her Thanksgiving table? ALSO NO.
- Teaching sanctimommyhood: Take it from me—I did this with soda by telling my kid that it was OK for other kids but we were making better choices. Not only did it not work, but it made me sound like a big smug jerk.
This is what I think you should do:
Let them amass as much candy as they want on Halloween, and let them eat themselves sick. Because I truly love candy, I just leave the buckets on the counter for a couple of days, and we all graze. By the second or third day, the candy loses its allure (because it’s not a forbidden thing and also because you can only eat so many tiny tubes of Whoppers before you’re sick of Whoppers. Trust me on this one. I have done the legwork). Then, you just get rid of it, and the kids won’t even notice it’s gone. Especially if you buy an organic pie pumpkin at the grocery store and turn it into muffins. And what the heck guys—put a little flaxseed in there; don’t be afraid to let your hair down.
But really, if you don’t want your kids to eat Halloween candy, then don’t take them trick-or-treating. Host a Halloween party for their friends instead. Take your family to the movies. Hide in the basement and pretend not to hear the doorbell ring—whatever’s fun for you.
Do you let your kids eat their Halloween candy? Comment and let me know.