Candy, flavored chips, baked goods and soft drinks – all the things no parent wants their children to eat everyday. Halloween activities center on acquiring candy. Parents who had fun trick or treating want their children to do the same. But what if food sensitivities, which are on the rise in children, contribute to Celiac disease, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, or Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)?
How To Keep Kids From Overloading on Candy
First, feed them a big meal of safe foods they love to eat. Make the favorites, bring out the high protein snacks that can be relied upon to fill them up and not create problems. Do it just before time to go Trick or Treating. Think about what the goals are for this experience:
- The kids should be having fun, so making a big deal out of forbidden foods is not the best approach. Relaxed parents are an essential ingredient of fun.
- Think damage control. Some not-so-good items are bound to get through.
- Everything depends upon planning. Choose a strategy that meets the family’s needs and be ready to implement it.
Work With Partners in Limited Areas
With very small children, taking them to friends or relatives homes that have prearranged safe goodies on hand offers the best control. Parents may have to purchase and “plant” the treats ahead of time and call to remind those people when the kids are coming. This strategy limits children’s experiences to a few houses they already know.
Plan Alternate Activities
Take in a craft exhibit or haunted house or carnival. This strategy is not guaranteed to prevent exposure to questionable items. Pack safe treats to exchange for candy prizes and offerings, but this can’t always be done by slight of hand and it shouldn’t turn into a power-struggle that damages relationships.
Try the Switch-Witch
For very small children this might take the form of substituting small toys and safe treats after every trick-or-treating stop. For older kids it’s a great family tradition: good boys and girls can leave their sack of candy in a certain place and the “Switch Witch” will come while they are asleep and leave a nice toy in its place. The candy might be confined in a pumpkin shell, but feel free to borrow from other holidays and use a basket or a spot in front of the fireplace.
This version of the tooth-fairy allows plenty of trick-or-treating and makes use of a go-to-bed fantasy similar to Santa Claus legends. Children who aren’t tired from trick-or-treating and eager to go to sleep so the Switch-Witch can come might be helped with a warm epsom salts bath. Next morning, thoughts of the missing candy will fade quickly if the toy is something asked for and much-wanted.
Trick or Trauma
Having awareness of food sensitivities can help parents avoid serious problems. By planning ahead to minimizing damage, keeping a flexible attitude, working with partners, taking advantage of alternate activities and creating new traditions, chemically sensitive children don’t have to miss out on the fun of Halloween.