Utah Dietician’s Surprising Advice On Halloween Candy Consumption
Trick or Treating is on its way which means lots of candy. How do you keep your kids from going Augustus Gloop on their veritable river of candy?
Utah dietician Emily Fonnesbeck gives tips on how to manage the infamous Halloween bucket. Her answer might surprise you. When people ask how she manages the candy issue she replies,
I don’t handle it, I let my kids handle it.
The trick is to know your roles. Many parents believe they are the dictator in the house determining what is good and bad for their kids, but Fonnesbeck says this is a mistake. There are different roles in the parent-child relationship and those will change. Understanding those roles will help each of you know how to approach the candy problem.
There is a model called the Division of Responsibility. It is a feeding model developed by registered dietitian Ellyn Satter.
This model helps parents understand that their role includes:
- Providing an opportunity for choice of what will be eaten
- Offer acceptable eating standards that children will learn
- Present options for children to thrive nutritionally
It also gives insight into the child’s role which will increase as they mature that would include:
- Making a choice
- Coping with the consequences of that choice whether they be physical (they don’t feel well) or institutional (imposed by parents).
- Learning effective nutrition and acceptable eating behavior
As you had down this road entrusting them with the magical realm of self-regulation don't be surprised if, at their first taste of freedom, their Halloween character resembles a Hoover vacuum more than Barbie this year, Fonnesbeck says that children have a natural self-balancing tendency that will trigger.
Be reasonable, you don't have to tie the bucket on their neck like a feedbag, but you should give them a little more than they should want to eat so they have the chance to self-regulate.
Be open about the candy. Often an overbearing parent is teaching their kids that they have to sneak the candy in through other channels; and there are plenty from school, to friends whose parents have the gall to disobey your rules, and even hiding candy. It's better to keep the choices in the open with the ability to discuss pros and cons of a food choice.
So unpin your food sheriff badge and swap it for a chocolatier's toque. Set the stage and let your kids be part of their nutrition choices.