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Should I Be Limiting my Kids' Halloween Candy? Advice from a Registered Dietitian

Kids trick or treating- Should I limit my kids' Halloween Candy?

It’s Halloween and your kids have returned with bags FULL of candy! It should be a fun experience will memories of dressing up in costumes and watching your kids go door-to-door in the neighborhood.

But you can't help but worry.

Should I limit how much candy they can have?

What if they won't stop eating the candy?

Should I hide it or throw it away?

Sugar is terrible for them!

And there is another part that may even strategize how to take some of the candy for yourself without anyone knowing!

As an Eating Disorder Dietitian, Intuitive Eating enthusiast, and mom of four myself- I completely understand your concern. After all, you just want what's best for your kids!

The Problem with Restricting Sugar

There is plenty of research to show that restricting sugar (even Halloween candy) for our kids, actually leads to eating MORE of it, and prevents them from building self-regulation skills around food.

In addition, when caregivers restrict foods like candy and sweets, it actually contributes to children eating in the absence of hunger. When any food is restricted, it takes away the ability to listen to and make choices based on internal body cues. Instead, children are learning to respond to external cues- ie. eating when the food (or candy) is available. This is a natural response- to eat when food or candy is available if there is fear of future restriction or deprivation, whether or not they actually want it, have a taste for it, or feel hungry.

So, Should I be limiting my kids' Halloween Candy?

Short answer-no. We now know that when candy and sweet foods are NOT restricted, children were able to listen to “internal” or body cues to decide if they wanted treats and how much.

However, this does not mean it's a candy eating free for all and your child gets to direct all aspects of their eating it. It's up to you as the parent to create boundaries and to create structure around the frequency and availability of all types of food- including candy. You get to decide the what and the when…but it's counterproductive to try to control how much. By allowing your children to practice the skill of self-regulation, to learn to listen to their body, and feel competent around food, you are encouraging a healthy relationship with food.

If you would like to learn more about how to cultivate a healthy relationship with sweets for your kids, our Raising Intuitive Eaters {Sugar Series} is just what you need. This is a self-paced course with video learning modules that share strategies and tips on how to build self-regulation skills for your kids around food. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us today!


As a reminder, the Branz Nutrition blog is nutritional information and not medical nutrition therapy or professional consultation. Branz Nutrition cannot provide medical nutrition therapy to individuals who are not our patients. If you have questions or concerns about your health, please schedule an appointment with our team.


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