Considering that it was Halloween last week, you can just imagine how many people – friends, family members, clients, and colleagues alike – asked me: “Just what are you going to do with all the candy your kids collect?”
One of my new mom friends decided to “trade” her kids the mainstream candy filled with red dye and other ingredients surely not grown on a farm for real pure dark cocoa. Together they read over the ingredients on the candy wrappers and then the kids got to decide if they wanted to eat red food coloring or pure cocoa.
But what did I do? My sitter was trick-or-treat trekking from apartment to apartment with us causing him to be especially curious. I wonder if my regular readers can guess what I did. Anyone want to guess which category I fell into from the ones listed here?
Here are three ways moms may have – or may not have -handled this annual candy avalanche:
You love candy and can’t get enough of it when it’s available. While you certainly allow your children to parade up and down the street dressed in their colorful costumes, you also made sure to have them eat their wholesome dinner before the candy collection began. You wanted to be the good mom! However, each candy morsel called your name as your kids filled their buckets and pillowcases throughout the evening.
You let your kids eat three pieces of candy each. Then they had to hand it over to you and get ready for bed. Your kids really do think candy is bad for them…and you do too. But, almost unaware of the time you spent popping those delicious suckers into your mouth throughout the evening, you did it anyway…and felt incredibly guilty later. And then you remembered that you did exercise Halloween morning because you certainly knew this would happen. But “f#%&” it! You absolutely couldn’t control yourself and just went to town with the kids’ candy.
Of course, now you’re waiting for the kids to notice that they have significantly less candy than they brought home…and it’s just one day after Halloween!
You think that candy is the culprit of all health issues. You agreed with that mom who gave letters versus candy to kids depending on their body sizes. But you allowed your little firemen and fairy princesses to get the “treats” because it was a “special day.”
You positively in agony as they begged to actually eat the “treats.” But no, you’d read the horror stories about sugar and health. And you have vowed to feed your children only organic, GMO-free, sugar-free food. Thus, you did your best to limit the “treating” part of Halloween. When your kids got home, you let them chose a few pieces to eat and you had them dump the rest!
You think they are just kids and it’s just candy. You let your kids eat some candy as they worked up a sweat collecting it. This was always your favorite time of year as a child and you don’t want to spoil the fun for them. You allowed your kids to eat their candy…not caring how much or when they should stop. Well, you say, it was within reason. You too, enjoyed some of the candy. You passed out your favorite candy from childhood and your children’s favorites too. Candy is simply fun and yum!
The kids got huge sugar highs and stayed up late celebrating the spirit of the holiday! They even have a huge bowl of candy and wrappers to verify their efforts as the best, most successful “trick-or-treaters.” And oh…you of course remember the days when you filled your pillowcase full of candy and carried your sack on your back so you looked like a Halloween Santa.
So, in reading these profiles…I probably don’t fall totally into any one specific category. However, believe it or not, I think I am closest to the Candylicious Mom! My boys came home from school, had some snacks, and we set out. They actually played soccer in their costumes until sundown. They came home sweating and raring to go. For the first time ever, we went trick-or-treating in our apartment building. We started on the 33rd floor and worked our way down the stairs (the elevators were jammed with pirates and pumpkins in strollers) to each floor gathering candy from the doors bearing signs welcoming trick-or-treaters. (Note: Not every New Yorker participates in these festivities!)
After raiding every floor, we were done; it took us only about an hour, but my boys were satisfied. They ate candy as they ran from floor to floor but I have no idea how much. I did not set a limit. Bobby took one candy from each apartment while Billy overtook his share coming back with three to five pieces. By the end of the trek, my boys and their friends were dehydrated from sweating and the excess sugar they’d consumed. But they were very happy ninjas and storm troopers. We headed back up the stairs to eat dinner, bathe and get ready for the next day. Billy came home to sit on the floor with his pail of candy and continue his own party. Bobby bathed, ate pizza and went to watch a show. He was really over the candy. He told Billy it was a “sometimes” food so he was done. Instead of more candy, he ate ice cream. Billy ate his pizza right along with his candy. I did gently remind him that he could get a bellyache from eating too much candy all at once. And eventually, my hubby had to move the candy to higher ground where he could not reach it!
When I awoke on Friday morning, both boys were eating candy from their pails; I just let them be. Bobby, of course, ate his breakfast and reminded me that candy is not allowed in school. As I watched Billy, I wondered if he would keep eating candy until he threw up! With the fuss of the morning rush, I’m not really sure how it all ended, but out the door we finally went. I am continuing to observe the candy piles as they dwindle. As of Monday, they seem to have forgotten about the candy. I am sure they will remember but I am definitely not reminding them.
So, though I really try to provide my kids with wholesome, balanced food choices – especially as a RD who specializes in eating disorders – I try not to over regulate their intake while chiefly trying to make their food consumption pleasurable experiences. I don’t want candy to be special or a treat. I know I’m not perfect. And ultimately, I expect my kids to have some food issues since this is typically the way life works. However, I do try to walk a fine line of balance – balancing food and life, the eating of all foods, and making food a non-issue.
So are you Candylicious, the Candy Police or the Candy Thief? What did you do? How do you recommend parents deal with the Halloween candy excess?