It’s that time of year! The holiday season is beginning! In his edition of “Because It Tastes Good”, I will be discussing candy, specifically Halloween candy! Whether you are a chocolate lover or sweet and sour candy lover this blog will pertain to you!
Halloween is that spooky time of year filled with scary movies, haunted houses, scary stories, decorations, costumes, and of course, trick or treating. This means lots and lots of candy around! Candy is not just a fear food for individuals with eating disorders, but to the whole diet culture in general. Candy is not the enemy. It is our beliefs and feelings around candy that make these delicious treats difficult to eat. You are allowed to have candy because it tastes good!
Eating Disorders and Halloween Candy
I have found that parents often struggle knowing how much candy they should allow their children. Do I allow a few pieces of candy on Halloween? A few pieces each day until it runs out? Or do I get rid of the candy after the first indulgence? My thought is to allow your children to have as much candy as they please on Halloween night (within reason, of course). This holiday is once per year. Let them go all out. Remind them, “if you eat too much you may have a tummy ache”. Their stomach may hurt and now they realize “okay I can’t eat that much candy next time”. Then allow them to pick out a piece of candy or two to have each day after Halloween. I have found that telling children they are not allowed candy or “only so much” can, in fact, do the opposite. It gives candy more power and the desire to eat candy even more real.
Allowing all foods to be available (and not hidden) can normalize the fact that all food is good food, in moderation. Thus, when your children go to a friend’s house or school party and they are offered foods that are available regularly, they have less desire to indulge, because it’s “just normal”. I have often heard “when my kid has candy or soda they cannot stop, they act out, and it’s because of the sugar”. In reality, it’s the fact that certain foods have been told to be off-limits so when it is available, “I must have as much as I can, right now, because I won’t be able to later”.
That being said, go out, dress up, and enjoy all of the candy! You are allowed to enjoy food without feeling guilty.
Emily Baum, M.S., RDN, LD