Balanced Advice on Trick or Treating

Many parents worry about their kids consuming too much sugar around Halloween. Parents may try to restrict and avoid Halloween candy to protect their children from eating too much sugar at this time of year. While the intention to reduce sugar is positive, being overly restrictive about Halloween candy may deprive kids not only of enjoyment but also a learning opportunity. Studies have shown that kids who have regular access to treats actually eat less high-sugar, high-fat food. Dietician Ellyn Satter describes it this way, “Children who have regular access to sweets and other forbidden foods eat them moderately. Children who don’t have regular access load up on them when they aren’t even hungry.” Ellyn Satter offers a balanced approach for navigating the Halloween candy stash: When he comes home from trick-or-treating, let him lay out his booty, gloat over it, sort it and eat as much of it as he wants. Let him do the same the next day. Then have him put it away and relegate it to meal-and snack-time: a couple of small pieces at meals for dessert and as much as he wants for snack-time. If he can follow the rules, your child gets to keep control of the stash. Otherwise, you do, on the assumption that as soon as he can manage it, he gets to keep it. Offer milk with the candy, and you have a chance at good nutrition. Satter encourages parents to treat Halloween as a learning opportunity, with the goal of the child being able to manage their own candy stash. In our society where sugar and treats are widely available, learning to self-regulate sugar intake is a healthy skill to have in life. So this Halloween, have fun and help children learn moderation through a balanced approach to candy.

Cooking and Learning with Children

Cooking is a wonderful learning opportunity for children. Don’t be afraid to invite children in the kitchen to help you. Whether it’s at home, at the childcare centre or in the classroom, children have so much to gain from preparing meals and snacks.. Encouraging children to help you in the kitchen  will increase their knowledge and curiosity in several areas. Children will develop math skills by counting and measuring ingredients. Introduce math principles by cutting portions of food. The concepts of subtraction, addition, multiplication and division are easy to demonstrate visually with foods. Help build literacy skills by saying everything you do aloud. Children will better understand the principles of steps and sequences. Teach them new words like cooking instruments and ingredients. Recipes with pictures will help children associate food with words. Fine motor skills will also improve as they practice skills like scooping, pouring, chopping, peeling and stirring. Give children specific tasks depending on their age and skill level.  For example, young children can remove cauliflower florets with their hands, wash fruits and vegetables, and tear off and rip lettuce leaves. The older or more experienced  children can cut soft foods like a banana with a plastic knife or shape cookie dough. Check out page 81 of LEAP™ Food Flair for more excellent examples of what children can do to help you prepare your next meal together. Here is a kid-friendly recipe to get them started in the kitchen: Salad in a Bag (LEAP™ Food Flair, p. 134) What you need: ½ cup (125 mL) Romaine lettuce or spinach leaves, chopped 2 tbsp. (30 mL) Grated carrots 3-4 Mandarin orange sections 2 tsp. (10 mL) Ranch or Italian salad dressing 2 Whole grain crackers 1 Plastic, sealable sandwich bag How to: Set out bowls of prepared salad fixings. Let each child each fill their own bag. Pour in salad dressing and close the bag for them. Children shake their salad then open it and eat with their forks as a snack (with whole grain crackers) or to start a meal. Serves one child  



Join the Healthy Start Community

Learn online. Anytime, anywhere.