Nutrition-wise blog

Halloween can be a teachable moment

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. October 17, 2012

Halloween is a dilemma for many parents. They want to curb the candy but they don't want to be the candy cop. Why not try a new approach? Turn this challenge into a learning opportunity for your children.

Halloween is just one of the many holidays and celebrations that tempt us with goodies. Clients tell me how football Sundays, birthday parties and other holidays sabotage their weight control efforts. Maybe it wouldn't be so tough in adulthood if these were learned behaviors earlier in life.

Before Halloween, have a conversation with your children about how they will handle the candy landslide. Adolescents should be mature enough to participate in this discussion. Ask for their ideas about how much candy is too much and what can be done with the excess.

Keep the conversation open and nonjudgmental. It might involve some coaching and even some bargaining. For example, you might negotiate with your children that they'll sit at the table to enjoy a few pieces of their candy, rather than plopping down in front of the TV and mindlessly munching their way through it.

On Halloween night and the days that follow, check in. Ask your children to assess their plan. How do they feel it went and how do they feel physically? What might they do differently next time?

Share your thoughts, suggestions and words of encouragement for other parents.

Here's to happy and healthy children,


Oct. 17, 2012