Intuitive Eating Tricks for Halloween 'Treats'
Our team at Embody Health London can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by! It’s already the end of October, which means the spooky season is upon us.
“Halloween” and “candy” are almost synonymous, and this can be a confusing time for you as a parent to know how to handle the sugar overload that’s heading towards your kids like a high-speed freight train.
So here’s our (perhaps controversial) advice – let them have it!
The most obvious way to prevent your child from going overboard on their Halloween candy is to put it somewhere they can’t access it, so that you can control when and how much of it they eat at once. But although you have the best of intentions, the research shows that this method is often counterproductive and may actually encourage the intake of the foods you’re attempting to moderate.
For example, studies have found that parental control of food can heighten the appeal and intake of the food being limited.1,2 Even a one-time restriction of a food can immediately increase a child’s desire for it.3,4
Furthermore, when restricted foods become available to the child, they eat significantly more of it2 – think of a kid going crazy for the sweets at a birthday party!
Parental food restriction has also been associated with some concerning eating behaviours, such as dieting, skipping meals, fasting and binge eating; these behaviours in turn are associated with eating disorders, poor dietary intake, substance abuse, low self-esteem and increased depressive symptoms.5
So what’s the solution? Remind your little ones to listen to their bodies – for example, you might ask “What is your tummy saying? Does it want another sweet or has it had enough for now?” Make sure they know that their candy is not going to be taken away from them and that they don’t have to eat it all right now.
2020 has already been scary enough! Make Halloween a little easier on yourself and a little more fun for your kids, while also teaching them to trust their bodies.
If you feel like you would benefit from expert support when it comes to guiding your children’s relationship with food, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our dietitians.
Karli Battaglia MDiet, APD
EHL Team x
- Fisher J, Birch L. Restricting Access to Foods and Children’s Eating. Appetite. 1999;32(3):405-419.
- Fisher J, Birch L. Restricting access to palatable foods affects children’s behavioral response, food selection, and intake. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999;69(6):1264-1272.
- Jansen E, Mulkens S, Emond Y, Jansen A. From the Garden of Eden to the land of plenty. Appetite. 2008;51(3):570-575.
- Jansen E, Mulkens S, Jansen A. Do not eat the red food!: Prohibition of snacks leads to their relatively higher consumption in children. Appetite. 2007;49(3):572-577.
- Loth K, Fulkerson J, Neumark-Sztainer D. Food-related parenting practices and child and adolescent weight and weight-related behaviors. Clinical Practice. 2014;11(2):207-220.