Halloween Candy & Kiddos

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What is the division of responsibility? 

The division of responsibility in feeding is a framework developed by Ellyn Satter to help parents instill healthy eating habits in their children. Ellyn Satter is a dietitian, social worker, family therapist, and an internationally recognized authority on eating and feeding best practice. Statter created this “gold standard” in feeding children which divides the responsibilities of feeding into two categories: the parent’s responsibilities and the child’s responsibilities. 

Parent’s responsibilities:

  • What foods the child eats
  • When the child has access to food 
  • Where the child eats 

Child’s responsibilities

  • Whether or not they want to eat at that time
  • How much of the provided food they eat  

If you would like to learn more about the division of responsibility of food, book with one of our dietitians today!  

What about candy? 

One way to help manage your child’ candy consumption on Halloween night is to ensure that they are well fed before heading out trick-or-treating. Provide your child a well balanced meal including carbohydrates, fibre,  protein, and healthy fats. This meal will not only give them the energy they need to go door to door, it will also keep them feeling full for longer. If your child is hungry when they are done trick-or-treating, they will be more likely to consume large amounts of candy. For example: before going trick-or-treating, have chicken tacos on corn tortillas, loaded with your favourite veggies, avocado, and dairy free cheese. It is also a good idea for kids to have a glass of milk with their halloween candy to not only get some calcium and healthy fat in but also to help slow the sugar’s absorption. 

Candy can be counter-intuitive 

Many times, children become hyper-fixated on candy. This is because many parents deprive their children of candy year-round. This mindset can be shifted by doing the opposite of what seems right. By providing your child with unlimited amounts of candy and allowing them to choose how much they want to eat, you are taking away that sense of urgency children feel to eat all of the candy right away. After a few sittings, your child may only eat a few pieces of candy before deciding that they are done, because they know that candy will be available again. 

Once this is achieved, the division of responsibility with candy follows the same framework as any other food. The parent has the responsibility to decide what candy they offer, when they offer it, and where the candy is to be eaten. The child has the responsibility to decide whether they want to eat it, and how much of the provided candy they want to eat at that time. 

Keep the spirit of Halloween alive

The amount of candy some children decide to eat around halloween can be spooky to some parents. It is important as parents to keep candy management from overpowering the spirit of the holiday. When parents are highly concerned about the amount of candy their child is eating, they are negatively impacting the other fun parts of halloween, such as trick or treating, haunted houses, pumpkin carving, and dressing up in costumes. 

Tips and tricks to use this Halloween for the division of responsibility with candy

  • Prepare all year by offering sweets with all meals and for some snacks, removing the “specialness” from sweets and candy. 
  • Occasionally offer unlimited sweets/candy. This eliminates the need to over-eat these foods when they are available and eventually they will eat a few pieces and be satisfied. 
  • Serve candy with fats and proteins to combat the “sugar high” and “sugar crash”  associated with eating candy. Some great ways to implement this are to serve candy with milk, serve chocolate bars which contain nuts in the filling to ensure fat and protein consumption, and serve candy alongside a well balanced meal. 

Halloween can be a spooky time when it comes to nutrition. For support book with one of our expert paediatric dietitians! 

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