This week, Kristen Carli of @kristen.carli, MS, RD, shares her expertise on managing the never-ending cycle of candy and sweets throughout the holidays.
Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, oh my! There are so many holidays that revolve around candy and sweets. The candy cycle seems to be never-ending. How are we, as parents, supposed to keep our little ones away from it all? The answer is simple: don’t stress! Letting your children enjoy a sweet treat now and again is okay. Yes, you read that right: It is okay. But what about all the sugar? What about the food dye? And don’t forget the additives! I’m a registered dietitian and here are my thoughts.
Treat vs. Snack
As a mom and a registered dietitian, I know it can be intimidating going into these holidays with the numerous sweet options. Candy has become a part of today’s culture and has, to an extent, become a tradition around certain holidays. Let me start by saying this: allowing candy on special occasions is okay. The main thing to remember is that it needs to remain a treat, not a frequent snack.
The “No Candy” Halloween
The concept of eating healthier alternatives on Halloween has become more popular over the past few years. I will say that I am always looking for ways to make healthy substitutions too. However, I do recognize the cultural impact candy has on little ones. By allowing children to enjoy candy on occasion, we can help them build a healthy relationship with food. We, as parents, play an important role in teaching our children why some foods are eaten less frequently (candy and sweet treats) while other nutrient-dense foods are consumed more often (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.). Giving our kids the “why” behind these decisions can give them the tools they need to make healthy choices on their own as they grow.
Won’t sugar make my kiddo hyper?
Contrary to popular belief, sugar does not necessarily make children hyper. Much of the time, there are other factors at play. Little ones can be easily excited as they dress up to go trick-or-treating or while playing at the fall festival. However, it is essential to note that sugar is not a nutrient-dense food so should not be consumed excessively, as it can lead to future health concerns. Kids need a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to provide their little bodies with vitamins and nutrients.
Don’t forget your options.
If you are worried about the ingredients found in many candies, remember your options. With everyone’s growing concerns, many companies have created candy without high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes, and even offer organic options. Some candy options can be tailored to your little one’s needs, from allergy-friendly to low-sugar. So as the person who knows your child best, take a look at the sweet options that are offered in your local grocery store to find one that best suits your child’s needs.
These upcoming fall events will probably be filled with many sweet delights. Instead of dreading them, take the opportunity to educate your child on what healthy foods are. Let your kiddos enjoy the social components of having candy in moderation. Look at what new healthy candy options are out there. Then, take a deep breath and enjoy the fun experiences with them.