For those of us who watch our own diets carefully and who monitor our weight fluctuations on our home scales, the holiday season can be fraught with anxiety and disappointment when it should really be delicious and satisfying. We also worry about our kids because we are all aware of the epidemic of pediatric obesity and its health, social, and economic consequences. Registered dietician Taryn Palmer reassures parents that tonight we should give those worries a rest:
One night of Halloween eating is not going to cause your child to be overweight or nutrient deficient.
Palmer embraces Ellyn Satter’s concept regarding parental roles for helping kids eat properly:
Her Division of Responsibility states the parent’s job is to provide the food, and to establish when and where it can be eaten. The child’s responsibility is to decide whether they want to eat it and how much.
Depriving children of the very thing they are craving on this night — candy, and lots of it — will only backfire and cause conflicts and fighting, and even obsessive behaviors. Palmer advises parents to leave their comfort zones and give up control for one or two nights before returning to the responsible parenting mode:
Let your child spend Halloween night sorting their candy and eating as much as they want within reason. If they still seem preoccupied by the treats the second day, allow them to do the same. After that, keep the candy out of site, only allowing it after they have eaten meals and snacks, knowing that you are providing healthy foods as a precursor to the treat. In this way you are providing the what, when and where for Halloween eating.
Let the holiday season begin. Trick or treat!