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Let kids eat candy and healthy eating habits may follow

Let kids eat candy and healthy eating habits may follow

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With Halloween coming, we had some APP staffers’ kids sample popular candy of the past at Lucky Leo’s Sweet Shop on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights.
Brian Johnston, Asbury Park Press

 

Parents, are you stressing over what your kids are eating?

Well, knock it off. Give yourselves a break. Cut your kids some slack. There is at least one expert out there who believes the world will not end if your kids eat their Halloween candy.

Dina Rose, a sociologist and author, specializes in healthy eating for children. She advocates taking off the pressure and using trick-or-treating as a “teachable moment” for families.

Rose, author of “It’s Not About The Broccoli: Three Habits To Teach Your Kids For A Lifetime Of Healthy Eating,” published by Perigee, points out that we encourage kids to collect as much candy as possible on Halloween, but then we don’t let them enjoy the spoils. So then candy becomes elusive, forbidden fruit, and it’s understandable that children would gorge on candy when they get the chance.

It’s therefore kinder, and more effective, to limit trick-or-treating itself, rather than to limit access to what kids collect. Don’t want your kids to be faced with 5 pounds of candy? Then only let them go to a certain number of houses, or fill a smaller-sized bag, but then let them enjoy the treats. 

Rose’s approach to nutrition is filled with common sense, and yet feels revolutionary.

She has even drawn up a Halloween Bill Of Rights for kids, as seen below.

Here are six other practical tips provided by Rose:·

1. Set up a candy container.  All the candy from Halloween (and from birthday parties or anywhere else) goes into one place and then parameters are set up within your household as to how much and how often candy can be enjoyed, thereby creating habits. This candy counts toward your family’s year-’round limits on sweets, including cookies, cupcakes and ice cream. The Halloween candy is not an additional supplement.
 
2. Don’t fill up on food first. Teach children to save room for their Halloween haul by giving them a small meal before trick-or-treating. Then, remind them to pay attention to their tummies.

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The Asbury Park Press features team showcases everything Halloween and previews holiday food.
THOMAS P. COSTELLO

3. Turn the candy into a sensory game. Unfamiliar sweets provide an opportunity for sensory exploration — the best method for overcoming picky eating and laying a foundation of healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Allow children to explore their variety of candy loot with all of their senses. Let them smell it, feel it, hear it, touch it and even look at it, as well as taste it. Do this together with children as a fun activity. (See this approach in action in the video at the top of this story).
 
4. Don’t focus on nutrition. The suggestion to use Halloween to talk about nutrition is misguided. Simply telling your child that Halloween candy is unhealthy will not stop them from wanting to try it. Rather, use the opportunity to strategize how to handle “big buffets” of life.

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5. Focus on habits. Sweets and treats are part of life, but we have to put them into our diets in the right ratios. Set limits and parameters as to how much and how frequently can be consumed. The timing doesn’t really matter; let your child decide when to eat the treat. However, once he/she has had the amount of daily treat you’ve established, then that’s it for the day. This allows children to better understand proper proportion. If they eat a candy bar at 10 a.m., that’s fine, but that’s all for the day. Or they may choose to eat a candy bar after dinner, but that’s it. 
 
6. We all make mistakes. There will be days when your child will have a treat in the morning and then be invited to an ice cream outing in the afternoon. Sometimes you’ll break the rules because it’s all a learning process.

For more from Dina Rose, go to itsnotaboutnutrition.com.

MORE FOR FAMILIES:

YUM: What’s the most popular Halloween candy this year?

NOT TOO SCARY: Halloween: Where to go for kid-friendly fun in NJ, NYC & Philly

HEALTHY LIVING: Food waste: 5 tips for children and families to reduce food waste

APPLES: NJ apple picking: Where to go in New Jersey, 36 best places statewide

TOYS: Hess truck: 2018 collector’s toy truck marks 85th anniversary of Hess

 

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