3 Easy Tips to Lighten the Candy Load

If you’re dealing with a serious pile of candy and it’s giving you major anxiety, now is the perfect time to put your little one’s Intuitive Eating to the test. Below I’m going to dish three easy tips to lighten the candy load with intuitive eating in mind.

Before we start, let’s get your intentions in check. 

Χ  THIS IS NOT ABOUT… throwing all the candy in the trash, or swapping their candy for something you’re more comfortable with (Cue the switch witch where you swap candy with money, playdough, or a new toy.)

  WHAT THIS IS…. a way to encourage your little one to be mindful of what they eat when surrounded by excess amounts of candy, chips, and chocolate. To help them tap into their intuition so they eat mostly for enjoyment, while learning to honour their sense of being comfortably full.

Why Sweets and Treats May Be An Issue

Before we dive straight into the tips, let’s chat about why sweets and treats cause a fight in the first place.

Essentially, how you’ve dealt with treats up to this point dictates how your little one will react to the massive amounts of candy they get on Halloween.

When sweets are never allowed in the house

The usual reaction is a combination of one of the following:

  • Fight you about every candy they get to eat.
  • Constantly ask for candy, hoard the candy, or hide the candy so you can’t take it away.
  • They may also cry, or throw a tantrum with the idea of “losing” any of their candy.
  • On the flip side, if you took the approach of “candy is bad for you” at some point they may avoid the candy all together or eat some in secret but feel shameful or bad for doing so.

When sweets are rationed or earned based on behaviour (eating vegetables, cleaning up, helping out)

The usual reaction is a combination of one of the following:

  • You may hear a lot of whining about wanting more candy.
  • They may seem very preoccupied with the candy.
  • They may eat more or less at a meal just so they can earn more candy.
  • If they feel too restricted they may over-indulge when they are given a chance to eat with no limitations, which makes you think they can’t control their eating so you have to.

When sweets are treated like everyday food (IE and DOR used and respected)

  • You may hear your little one ask about sweets but they don’t seem overly concerned about when they get their next candy.
  • They freely enjoy candy and eats them until content or satisfied.
  • They may leave half eaten candy on the table or in their lunch bag.

 If you’ve just realized you created a “candy monster” and aren’t quite sure how to fix it   we can help.

Time to Lighten the Candy Load the Easy Way!

Tip #1: Divide and Decide

Now it’s time to decide

Not all candy is created equally. Some you love, some you hate, and some you just tolerate. This is a great opportunity to help your child learn about eating food they love and leaving the rest. You can remind them they don’t need to eat all their candy just because it’s there, especially if it doesn’t taste good to them! If you have younger kids, age 2 or younger, you can sort candy based on previous preferences and by excluding choking hazards. Kids age 3 and up should be actively included in sorting their candy into a few piles. Here’s the piles I suggest:

Pile #1: Candy they love.
Pile #2: Candy they’ve never tried before.
Pile # 3: Candy they know they don’t like.
Pile #4: Candy that they are allergic to or poses a choking hazard. Read more about making Halloween safe for young kids here.

Halloween candy safety tips

Now it’s time to decide…

WHO: is in charge of the candy, you or your child.

WHERE: the candy’s home is (a bowl on the counter, a box in the living room, child’s bedroom, etc.)

WHEN: the candy can be accessed.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging here. I can feel your anxiety rising already. Let’s go back to the basic guiding principles of Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility.

  • You are in charge of what is served and when.
  • Your child is in charge of what they eat from what’s served, and how much they eat.

A general rule of thumb:

⇒ School aged children, age 5+ may be ready to control their own candy stash.
This doesn’t mean candy all day, every day. You can still instill rules or guidelines. 

⇒ Children under age 5, you’re the gatekeeper to the candy.
That doesn’t mean you get to raid it whenever you want either… we’re building trust here!

Suggestions for what to do with the piles of candy:

Since you already know what to do with the candy you know your child loves, here’s a few tips on dealing with the rest of it.

Instead of reaching for the garbage bin, consider:

  • Holding a taste test time to try out new candy.
    • Expert tip:
      ⇒ The best time for taste testing is during a scheduled snack time, so take full advantage. This helps normalize candy so it becomes less of a big deal in the future.
  • Up-cycle hard candies or ones they know they don’t like for future projects. Read more below.

Tip #2: UP-Cycle!

Why toss out hard-earned candy in the trash it when you can up-cycle it?

Think fun baking additions, decorating Gingerbread houses, a sweet treat for birthday gift bags, or even fun experiments. The sky is the limits when it comes to up- cycling candy. 

Some of my favourite, easy candy up-cycle uses are:

  • adding smashed up chocolate bars to a blizzard or ice cream Sunday.
  • left-over smarties, Reese’s pieces, or other candies to homemade trail mix, and
  • gummy candies connected by toothpicks to build towers, houses and rocket ships.

If you’re in need of more inspiration, check out my Pinterest page for some great Halloween candy Up-Cycle projects. 

Pinterest page to up-cycle candy

Tip #3: Let Natural Selection Take it’s Course

 

With time, all things usually lose their luster; and in this case their texture. If your little one is finding it really hard to let go of any of their candy, even the disgusting Tootsie Rolls, don’t fret! Natural selection will take place with time.

Your child may realize some of the candy got hard, they may get tired of eating certain ones, or just lose interest all together in asking or begging to eat candy.

When this happens you can either toss the candy, repurpose it for later projects, or freeze it to be handed out next year.

In the end…

Halloween comes once a year, but candy and treats can be an issue year round if you let them. The tips above are great to help you lighten the candy load without being sneaky or making your little one feel bad.

Kids need to learn how to manage eating sweets regardless of how you feel about them; and the best way to accomplish that is by allowing them to eat the candy. To realize that candy, or sweets in general, taste delicious but they aren’t anything special.

Remember, food is food.

So, take a deep breath when candy wrappers fly and know that this time will pass sooner the less you resist it. The more you restrict, limit, or switch out candy the more of an issue it can become in the future. 

Here’s to a lightened load, physically, mentally, and maybe even candy.

Cheers!

~L

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