How to handle the Halloween sugar haul

How to handle the Halloween sugar haul

kids at halloween

Many parents are preparing for trick-or-treating activities today. Halloween can be a lot of fun, but the amount of sugar and lollies consumed can be a worry. 

Many parents are preparing for trick-or-treating activities today. Halloween can be a lot of fun, but the amount of sugar and lollies consumed can be a worry. 

According to hundreds of parents in our recent survey, 30% of young children will only eat sweet things, . This infatuation with sugary foods upholds the concern of many parents.

Sydney Dietitian Hayley Liew from Flourish Nutrition and Dietetics works with Learn Play Eat and has some fantastic recommendations to manage kids’ sugar consumption. 

There are so many contradictory things said about sugar, so Halloween is a challenge! How can parents know what is the best way to navigate it?

As a parent you may be concerned about whether you should control the amount of sugar eaten on the day and how to do so. 

  • How should you handle the plastic pumpkins full of leftovers in the following days?
  • Will your kid ever get to sleep after all that sugar? 
  • Will they be begging to eat nothing but lollies for a week? 
  • And how bad is it for their overall health? 

We also found that 85% of parents we surveyed are frustrated, and 69% feel stressed because of their child’s eating habits, so we’d like to help with some tips for approaching Halloween lollies.

Handling the Sugar Haul

Our top six recommendations for handling the Halloween sugar haul are:

  1. Try to serve nutritious meals throughout the day of Halloween, then you know they’ve already had a variety of foods that day.
  2. Provide a snack before going out trick-or-treating, so that they are not ‘starving hungry’ when they start to receive lollies.
  3. Don’t restrict them on the day, as that can make lollies seem even more desirable, but ask them to consider if they are still feeling hungry to help them self-regulate, and remind them that they can save some for later too.
  4. After Halloween, move leftovers somewhere out of sight so that they are not asking for them all the time. Leftover lollies can then be included at your usual snacktimes if requested.
  5. Set expectations with your kids before hand about how lollies will be managed and stick to them.
  6. Don’t stress too much, it really is (mostly) just one day. Keep a relaxed attitude and Halloween won’t be so scary!

When Halloween Is Over

Dietitian Hayley Liew has these recommendations for managing kids’ sugar consumption in day to day life and developing a healthy relationship with food:

  • “Don’t use negative words about sugar and lollies. Lollies are not a ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ food, they are just food. Kids may feel like they are bad if they like ‘bad’ food, or may be ashamed to like food they have been told is bad. 
  • “Young children are not developmentally ready for nutrition education and cannot understand the nuances of a healthy diet. Developmentally appropriate food education involves positive, fun experiences with food such as cooking, grocery shopping and vegetable gardening to help children become curious and aware of a variety of foods.
  • “Don’t actively restrict sweet food. If a child is not allowed a certain food, this increases their enthusiasm for this food. It has been often observed that when unsupervised, children who have been restricted will overeat when forbidden foods are available.
  • “By serving sweet foods regularly they are seen to have the same importance as other foods. Kids are able to become relaxed around all foods and won’t go off the deep end when a sweet buffet presents itself at a party. 
  • “Be supporters instead of the food police. Help kids learn to self-regulate and respond to their own hunger and fullness cues. If they do happen to eat a large amount of sweet things, we can ask them questions like “how does your tummy feel?” to start a discussion.
  • “Parents can offer higher protein and higher fibre foods with high sugar foods to avoid the sugar crash.”

About Dietitian Hayley Liew

Hayley Liew is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian in Sydney and owner of Flourish Nutrition and Dietetics. Hayley specialises in children’s nutrition, working with families to manage picky eating and weight concerns. She is also passionate about the prevention and treatment of eating disorders.