You might think with being a dietitian, candy and anything “lo-nu” (what True started calling low nutrition foods a few years back) would be forbidden. Before I speak about that, I wanted to visit what may seem like petty semantics. We’ve learned not to refer to foods as good or bad, but rather, identify them based on their nutrient density. We’ll instead classify them as a high nutrition (hi-nu) food or low nutrition (lo-nu) food. All foods can be consumed within the context of balance and moderation. Furthermore, there’s no need to associate guilt/shame with a food traditionally labeled as “bad.” We strive to teach them how to make healthful choices, and how to recognize what is high nutrition versus low nutrition in our home.
So how do we address the lo-nu Halloween candy? We intentionally allow the kids eat all they want. Yup, you read that correctly. It’s a part of the approach we’ve adopted from dietitian and psychotherapist Ellyn Satter. We’re still learning how to best integrate what seems to be a very liberal strategy when it comes to “forbidden foods” like these after Halloween is over, so we go at our own pace as we continue to experiment with these principles. One of the goals is that kids won’t over-indulge/binge when parents aren’t around. The six of us are learning together; that’s parenting though.
When it comes to how we answer the “Trick or Treat!” request at the door, there was a study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior that helped form our decision in what we give out. Researchers offered kids aged 3-14 the option of candy vs. a Halloween toy. Half of them chose the toys… an interesting perspective on how many kids define “treat” on Halloween. Since there’s already enough candy being circulated around that night, we’ve opted for inexpensive toys. And for individuals challenged with weight or other conditions in which mindful candy-eating principles are welcome, this is a nice strategy for removing candy in the home that could be mindlessly consumed!
Have a safe and mindful Halloween!