Navigating This Year’s Halloween Harvest

By Michaela Caton, RDN, LDN  

With Halloween just around the corner many parents find themselves in a state of worry. This concern is often due to the volume of sugar that awaits each Halloween.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16% of children and adolescents’ total caloric intakes comes from added sugar: sugars not naturally found in food. With statistics like these it’s no wonder parents feel panicked. Is throwing out your child’s Halloween candy and dealing with tears truly the answer?

According to Ellyn Satter, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Family Therapist, it is the parent’s job to decide what, when, and where their child eats. It is also the parent’s job to offer balanced and age appropriate meals. So, what is the child responsibility you ask? The child’s role is to decide if they want to eat the foods presented to them and if so how much.

So where do we start when our child returns home with mounds and mounds of mini-snickers bars and reese’s cups? Here are some helpful and practical tips for navigating this year’s Halloween Harvest.

Fill Their Belly

Providing dinner or a healthy snack before leaving the house will greatly reduce your child’s food cravings and therefore candy consumption.

Don’t Mention It

By telling your child “don’t eat too much candy!” as they walk out the door will only cause them to think about sweets even more. Instead make it a non-issue.

Kids Pick

Provide candy as a snack and allowing your child to choose between three different kinds while you decide what serving.

Toys Not Treats

Food based rewards lead your child to look at food as something earned instead of daily nourishment which is eaten and enjoyed with family and friends.

Let Go of the Reigns

Allowing your child to learn how to self-regulate around sweets can be scary at first but is also an essential skill which they need to be successful around food as adults.

“Bad” Foods No Longer Exist

The word “bad” brings up feelings of guilt and shame for children and adults. Try using the categories of “go foods,” which can be eaten every day, “slow foods,” which can be eaten sometimes, and “woah foods,” which can be eaten occasionally. Or you can use a simpler high nutrition (hi-nu) food or low nutrition (lo-nu) food categories.

Play With Your Food!

Use the candy for other purposes! Watch how skittles change the color of water or build a haunted gingerbread house!


To learn more about healthy eating and helping your child develop a better relationship with food come see one of our pediatric dietitian’s today!