HONOLULU (KHON2) — To go trick-or-treating as a keiki is one of our fondest memories from growing up. Free candy while trapsing through our neighborhoods with our besties was the highlight of the season.
Some of us would devour our candies within 24 hours while others would meticulously parcel out our candies to consume in a regulated fashion.
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However, in the last 20 or so years, it has been more important that parents oversee the candy consumption from our night of plunder.
Nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Therapy Consultants here in Honolulu, Kristen Lindsey-Dudley warns, “don’t ruin your keiki’s Halloween”.
Being vigilant about your keiki’s consumption of candy is one thing. But being a taskmaster about when and how your keiki consumes their Halloween candy can lead some bigger issues for your keiki.
Lindsey-Dudley said that being too hypervigilant with monitoring your keiki’s Halloween candy consumption can lead to shame eating and eating disorders if your keiki feels like they need to hide their candy eating.
She has dealt with keiki who feel shame for eating their Halloween candy. These shame-riddled keiki grow up to be adults who do not have good Halloween memories.
Lindsey-Dudley said that most parents are simply trying to do the right thing. But what is the right thing when it comes to copious amounts of candy consumption. For the answer to this. Lindsey-Dudley said it is best to follow the advice of nationally recognized nutritionist, Ellyn Satter.
According to Satter, it is important for parents to preserve the joy of Halloween. One of the ways parents can ensure their keiki’s Halloween isn’t ruined is through a year-round routine of allowing them to be a part of meal and snack planning.
While keiki will still be excited about the potential of the holiday, they will not be consumed with devouring the candy statim and will be able to enjoy the sweets without thinking that it is the only time they have autonomy when it comes to their sweet’s consumption.
“Your child will learn to be relaxed and matter-of-fact about sweets, the same as about other food, when you routinely include them in family meals and snacks,” said Satter. “Children who have regular access to sweets eat them moderately. Children who are deprived of high-sugar snacks become preoccupied with them, have trouble resisting them, load up on them when they aren’t even hungry and weigh more.”
Teaching your keiki to responsibly approach high-sugar and high-fat snacks throughout the year will allow them to avoid the shame often associated with restricted or denied access. Satter points out that when we restrict or deny, we only create a scenario in which keiki will sneak around to consume these snack items, leading to eating disorders and obesity.
With all this in mind, Halloween candy stashes are a prime learning opportunity.
One way of dealing with the copious amounts of candy is to let them indulge. When they come home, let them gloat over their spoils, sort them into categories and devour them. You can do this for a couple of days.
But while doing this, help your keiki create a schedule for consumption and let them know that they can have their Halloween candies in addition to their regularly planned snacks and meals but that for now you will keep the candy for them.
“When they can follow the rules, your child gets to keep control of the stash,” explained Satter. “Until then, you do. Reassure them that as soon as they can manage it, they get to keep it. If you can keep your nerve with allowing the sweets at meals and snacks, your child will eventually get enough and even get to the point where they are casual about sweets. You may even find a dusty bag of Halloween candy in the back of the closet!”
Meals that are high in protein and fiber prevent your keiki from having sugar highs and crashes.
Recent research has found that sugar in and of itself does not impact the cognitive abilities or sleep routines of keiki. Satter said that the lack of a high protein, high fiber diet or sugar eaten on an empty stomach are what makes children have difficulty with sugar.
So, before you go trick-or-treating or before your keiki eats their candies, ensure that they have had a healthy, high-protein and fiber meal.
The idea behind allowing your keiki access to sugar is that its newness will wear off.
“Do the opposite of what seems right: The more sweets-preoccupied your child is, the more often you offer sweets,” explained Satter. “Put a plate of cookies, snack cakes, or—yes—candy on the table with whole or 2% milk, and let your child eat as many sweets as they want.”
She went on to explain further.
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“At first, they will eat a lot, but the newness will wear off and they will get to the point where they eat a few and lose interest, added Satter. “In the long run, they will eat less sweets than if you do the restriction/giving-in or restriction/sneaking-around routine.”