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Halloween Candy and Kids: A Fearless Approach

By Michelle May, M.D.

Kids-and-Halloween-candyWhen Halloween night is over, many parents will be wondering, “How do I allow my kids to enjoy their Halloween candy without eating too much?”

The “food police” might have a very different answer for you, like, “Dole it out two pieces a day” or “Make the kids trade it in for money to buy a toy.”

Here’s my fearless approach to kids and Halloween candy based on my personal experience with ending my struggle with food and changing the way I handled candy with my own kids.

After all, we are not raising children, we are raising adults!

(This is the opening to Chapter 10 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.)

Mindful Eating, Halloween Candy, and Kids

I used to love watching my kids at Halloween because they taught me so much about eating mindfully. They were just as excited about their costumes, trick-or-treating with their friends, and sorting and trading their candy as they were about eating it. Don’t get me wrong; they love candy. But the candy was only a part of the whole experience.

When my children were small, I kept their Halloween candy out of reach and rationed it by allowing them to choose a couple of pieces each day from their separate stashes.

I was still dieting in those days, so I never had any candy of my own. I would carefully steal anything chocolate that I didn’t think they’d miss. Fortunately, they never found the wrappers I guiltily shoved to the bottom of the garbage. By the time they were old enough to figure it out, I was no longer trying to control them—or myself.

When they were older, their diets were more balanced than most kids’ (and adults’ for that matter), and I knew they were capable of managing such things as their own Halloween candy.

I marveled at how each child’s individual personality showed up when they were in charge!

Tyler loved the sugary kid-candy and would devour it within a few weeks. His usual intake of Popsicles and other treats decreased accordingly.

Elyse insisted on keeping her candy in her closet so her brother wouldn’t eat it. Each day she would rummage through her bag to find a few perfect pieces. I’d like to think I taught her moderation, but I know she just loved to savor it. She’d eventually forget about the candy or lose interest when her favorites were gone, and I’d throw the rest away by Valentine’s Day.

I have my own chocolate now. Not the leftovers my kids don’t want, but the kinds I love. It takes days or even weeks for me to finish a box or a bag, and on more than one occasion, I’ve been surprised by coming across some that I had completely forgotten about.

The Key to Halloween Candy and Kids

The fear-based approach to controlling Halloween candy is symptomatic of our cultural fear-based approach to eating in general! This approach often backfires, giving certain foods like candy more power over us.

When you take a fearless approach and try not to make the Halloween candy too big of a deal, your kids will feel less compelled to overeat it – now and as adults!

Read more tips about handling Halloween candy:

The Trick to Managing the Treats

Want Candy? Flowchart

Rewire Your Brain


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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