This post was originally published on November 19, 2014. It was updated on April 2, 2020.
To say that Naomi is “sensitive to sugar” is an understatement. That’s like saying vampires are sensitive to stakes through the heart. It doesn’t take much of a bit of cookie or candy to turn my sweet, joyful girl into a whining, bouncing, screeching little monster.
Halloween, however, is without a doubt the favorite holiday around here. We all dress up (and I do mean all of us!) and take turns passing out the treats. This year, she asked to go as a witch, so I went as her kitty. Michael went as a Jedi Warrior, and we bought the most adorable onesie and hat set for Jude to go as R2D2. Yes, we are huge and unabashed nerds in this house. Naomi could recognize Yoda long before she could recognize Ronald McDonald.
Last year was a nightmare. Naomi, Michael and myself opted to binge on the candy for a week straight to get rid of it. The result was a little girl who was overloaded, overhyped and overwhelmed. It was heartbreaking, and the withdrawl that followed was just as bad. It took almost a whole month to get her back to her normal, healthy self. Sugar after that became a bad word in our house, and even now, I almost always half the sugar in any recipe I make. I vowed that next year, we would find a way that we could use to control the sugar monster. But how do I balance the memory making and joy from Halloween for Naomi with the results of a sugar binge? There are actually a lot of options! I was pretty surprised when I looked into it this summer and discovered so many great options!
7 Ways to Enjoy Halloween Treats (Without the Dreaded Sugar Binge)
Buy Candy From Your Child.
Some parents offer their children a set amount of money ($0.10 to $0.25 per piece) to their children. You could let them save their favorites (like the chocolate bars) and at the same time, buy the junky candy corn and lollipops, and let them buy a new toy or game instead. I did offer this option to Naomi, but she wasn’t at all interested. Maybe next year.
Look Into Trade In Offers at Dentist Offices.
This is a great idea. Several dentist offices in my city were willing to trade money to a child per pound of candy. My local dentist was offering $1 per pound. But again, Naomi wasn’t interested in this. She much preferred the candy.
Send Extra Candy to Military Personnel Overseas.
I had heard of people doing these things for Christmas, but it never would have occurred to me to do this for Halloween. What a great idea! This takes place in Canada and in the United States (not sure about in other countries).
Unfortunately, none of these ideas appealed to Naomi, and so we had to come up with rules that allowed her the opportunity to enjoy her treats, without overdoing it.
Rule 1: Each child could have three individual pieces of candy a day. One of those had to be chips.
Chips don’t seem to have much of an effect on her. She was allowed to pick the treat herself, either a piece of candy, a lollipop, a bag of chips, etc. and that was the only thing she was allowed to have until the next time. This gave her a choice of what she wanted to have at that time. It was rather surprising to see her go through the “healthy” (yeah right!) gummy candies first, and focus less on the chocolates.
Rule 2: Each child could only have a treat after she had eaten her whole meal beforehand.
Didn’t matter what I was serving, or what meal it was — if the meal wasn’t finished, no candy. Period. This also guaranteed that she had a full stomach, and her body was busy breaking down the carbs, proteins, and fats, instead of just candy.
Rule 3: Candy was a privilege that could easily be taken away.
Candy was not something that she got just because. It could be used as a punishment in the event that punishment was deemed necessary (not something that happens often). If Michael or I thought that she had consumed too much sugar already in the day (on the odd occasions that we ate out or she had juice, etc), it was okay for us to say that she’d had enough candy for the day. She is really good at recognizing this herself and accepted it for the most part without much argument.
Rule 4: Dessert and candy cannot go together.
If I had made cookies or cake, she was welcome to have some of that instead of the candy. But she couldn’t have both. I was actually surprised how many times she would choose a small piece of hard candy over a lovely slice of chocolate cake. I am guessing it’s the novelty.
The results have been wonderful. Tomorrow, she will enjoy the last three pieces of candy and will have been able to enjoy the treats that she enjoyed gathering almost a month ago, and with almost no issues whatsoever. We will try the other options again next year, but if she isn’t interested in parting with her treats, I will again set down the candy rules and we can enjoy letting her have her treats without having to go through the chaos it creates.