Before we start, let’s get your intentions in check.
THIS IS NOT ABOUT… throwing all the candy in the trash, or swapping their candy for something you’re more comfortable with them having like money 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.
Now that we’ve set the right mindset for you to have while managing the sugar rush, let’s talk about how to lighten the candy load, Intuitive Eating style!! How your little reacts to massive amounts of candy really depends on their relationship with sweets leading up to this point. Check out the most common reactions below.
Reactions you can expect based on the sweet’s situation leading up to today:
When sweets are never allowed in the house
⇒ may 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. Alternatively if your little one has heard how bad candy is or how it “isn’t good for you” 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)
⇒ may hear a lot of whining about wanting more candy, or your little one may seem very preoccupied with the 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)
⇒ may hear a little one ask about sweets but they don’t seem overly concerned about when they get their next candy. Freely enjoys candy and eats them until content or satisfied.
Now that we have your head in the right space, let’s talk tips to lighten the candy load while still respecting your little one’s wishes.
Tip #1. Divide and decide
The age of you little one dictates whether you step back or actively participate at this stage. Really little kids, age 1-2, you may need to sort the candy based on previous
preferences (salty, crunchy, sour, sweet), and remove candies that aren’t safe for them to eat.
Encourage older kids, age 3+, to sort the candy into 5 piles:
Now it’s time to decide….
- The candies they love in pile #1:
It’s time to decide whether if your little one will be in full control or not… AKA they get to have the candy in their room.
General rule of thumb:
⇒ age 5+ may be ready to control their candy stash.
⇒ 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!)
- For candies in piles #2 and #3:
These piles are the perfect opportunity to talk about eating foods we love and that taste good to us.
Things to consider:
⇒ Offer suggestions for to do with the candy: keep, toss, donate, or up-cycle.
- Candy that ends up in pile #4:
It’s taste testing time! Set aside time each day to test a new candy, or group of candies.
⇒ 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.
- Donate, toss, take candy to work, or offer it to a family member if it falls into pile #5.
Tip #2. UP- Cycle!
- 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 rocketships.
At the end of the day, whether you love your littles eating candy or not, remember candy isn’t the issue. The WAY you view the candy and want to control your child IS the issue; be mindful of this. Set your intentions to help your little one explore the candy NOT rid the house entirely of it.
Take a deep breath when candy wrappers fly, meals are skipped, and your little one is hyper-focused on candy. Choose to weather the candy storm and know that this time will pass sooner the less you resist it.
Intuitive eating always wins as long as you can step back and watch without harsh judgement or reprimands. Then step back in as your little one’s guide.
Here’s to a lightened load, physically and mentally.