32 Comments on Halloween

People have asked us in the past how we deal with the sugar-fest known as Halloween.  For the sake of new readers, I’ll answer that question again:

We let the girls go trick-or-treating and eat the candy they collect.

Halloween is a big, fun event for kids, and we don’t want to ruin it by being food fascists.  Kids were enjoying Halloween long before the steep rise in childhood obesity and diabetes.  It’s not the occasional treat that screws up a kid’s health and metabolism; it’s the chronic overload of sugars and other refined carbohydrates.  Those aren’t part of our girls’ normal diets.

So our girls eat Halloween candy — but the deal is that they only get three days to indulge, including Halloween night.  After that, the candy goes away.

The first year we instituted that system, Sara tried to gobble up all her remaining candy on the third day.  She got sick as a result, and most of what she’d gobbled down ended up in the toilet.  Lesson learned … she and Alana have since concluded that there’s no point in filling their bags with a ton of candy they can’t eat without making themselves sick.  In fact, after they haunted a few streets in a nearby neighborhood last night, they announced they were ready to go home.

Sara then separated out the candy she likes — mostly chocolates — and dumped the stuff she doesn’t.  She explained that Pixie Stix, for example, are just a big mouthful of sugar and are way too sweet to taste good.

That’s my girl .. or my screaming banshee, at least during the evening’s festivities.



32 thoughts on “Halloween

  1. Serena

    It’s great that the three-day limit works. But what do you do about other special occasions? Figuring each birthday they attend (maybe one a month), and a couple of days to feast for New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, the Fourth, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, every wedding they attend, celebrations connected to civic and school events, promotions, all the times people hand out candy… it must come out to about fifty days a year or more when they notice that other kids get sweets. Most parents I know give up before the kids are three years old because of social pressure.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      For them it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday parties. It works out to one, sometimes two days per month on average.

    2. gallier2

      Haven’t you noticed the most important part of Tom’s posting?
      She explained that Pixie Stix, for example, are just a big mouthful of sugar and are way too sweet to taste good.
      By not being exposed most of the time to the sugary overdose, kids will not even indulge in it when they could, because it doesn’t even appeal to them.

      The problem with sugar is the slippery slope of chronic exposure, not acute consumption.

        1. Galina L.

          My son doesn’t eat sweets now because everything what is sold tastes too sweet. He likes oatmeal cookies I make for him when he visits. He was a sugar-obsessed maniac kid.

    3. Galina L.

      I didn’t know anything about Paleo diet when my son was growing up, but his desire to eat only sugar and treats forced me to keep sugar-bowl on a tall shelf or on the top of the fridge and avoid keeping chips and cookies at home at all because he would find it anywhere. Besides, we (me and my husband) were raised in a tradition which considered giving children snacks to be a spoiling activity.When really hungry, my son was fed cheese and he also ate sour cream with a spoon from a jar. Also, in my house I cook 100% of food . Outside of our house my son was allowed to eat anything, I considered it was rude to question the food choices of other parents unless an allergy was a concern (I warned people about fish and chocolate not being good foods for my son for that reason), he kept Halloween candies for one day with the exception of a chocolate. Leftover candies usually went to a lunch room at work. It was enough for my son to grow without candies and didn’t need braises. After he went to a university, he decided on his own to try to avoid gluten in hope it would help with an eczema, and it worked. He lost his love for sugar somehow in the process of growing up. He will be 22 in couple of weeks. I follow a strict LC diet to be healthy and not to regain lost weight myself, and I hope he got a message from me that a diet is the important tool to get health on truck , and should be tried first before reaching for medications.
      I cringe when people are freaking out about their children getting “not paleo” something at other people houses. I think such attitude may strangle children’s social relationship with an outside world.

        1. Jim Butler

          Pretty sure that the garbage that’s in most of the candy, delicious to us as it may be from time to time, is not anything I want to add to my compost pile.


  2. Adam

    I agree completely with this post. We do something similar with our kids as well. I read so many neurotic posts from foodies that take away the fun of being a human being and enjoying the occasional indulgence. Thanks for keeping things real here!

  3. Kati

    We let our sons enjoy candies last night, then had them pull out the top 10 remaining pei és to enjoy over the next week. The rest just magically disappears! :0

  4. Brandon

    I agree with Adam, way too many neurotic posts outlining intricate plans to prevent children from trick-or-treating and/or eating candy. It’s refreshing to see a sense of balance on a paleo / low-crab blog. Occasional treats aren’t going to ruin a child’s innocence, leave them helplessly addicted to sugar, or transform them into rabid sugar-fueled monsters. You would think that people are handing out crack cocaine to our children the way some writers discuss Halloween. Let them enjoy an occasional treat, then back to normal.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Well, some people like to compare sugar to cocaine. I understand they tickle the same part of the brain, but other than that I don’t believe the comparison holds up.

  5. Amy H.

    The three-day plan is great. Ours are still very young so it’s easy enough for us to dole it out for them a piece at a time. The eldest, at 6, was given more say in how much to eat at a time (the rules being no candy for breakfast or as a meal, only after as a treat) and she decided after two or three pieces she’d had enough.

    Sometimes, letting them pig-out is a sure way to cure them of the problem. She’s starting to associate her headaches and poor nights of sleep with too much sugar indulgence, and as a result self-limits. It’s far better for all of us, no stress or crying over the restriction, and we can relax a little knowing she’s not going to go overboard all the time.

    BTW, lovely face makeup, a truly artistic job, whomever applied it.

    1. Galina L.

      I think it is better not to have sugary treats on an everyday basis for your children, and for that reason inside your house as well. If it is not here, it would be no crying over restrictions. They build foundation of their knowledge what is the normal way to eat and which foods are staples during their childhood.

  6. NM

    My young daughter, who almost never eats candy at home, does go trick or treating with her friends. She loves collecting the sweets, but isn’t that bothered about consuming them. The first time she did trick-or-treating, we asked her initially to choose two pieces she’d like to have (initially, we thought, to stop her guzzling the lot all at once). She chose. And then she asked “what will happen to the rest of the sweets?”. Curious to hear any proposal she had, we asked her what she’d WANT to happen to them:
    “I think we should leave them for the Halloween fairy”, she replied after much consideration.

    And so now, the bulk of the candies are always, indeed, left for the Halloween fairy, as per our new family tradition 🙂

  7. Babs

    The 50 days a year minimum off sugar sounds about right. Also, factor in the painful things like shots and haircuts where you just give them the sugary thing to minimize the tears, and reward them.

      1. Babs

        My son doesnt tolerate the buzzer thing. Then if one speck of hair gets on his neck all hell breaks loose. Its unbearable to the point i think i am just going to let him grow it long. Dum dum suckers do help,

  8. Bret

    “…and we don’t want to ruin it by being food fascists.”

    That’s such a reasonable and mature perspective. It’s a refreshing change from the purist proselytizing that tends to abound in this food blogging community.

    None of us want our kids eating dextrose, corn syrup, etc, but the occasional indulgence is not going to kill them. We don’t want to take all the fun out of life — and if we try to do so, our excessive strictness will eventually backfire, and our kids will rebel as soon as we’re not looking (preacher’s child syndrome).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.