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There’s actually a method behind the madness.

Brierley Horton
October 30, 2018

Holidays like Halloween and Easter are beloved in our house. Twice a year the kids end up with big piles of candy, and they know that for one day, they can start gorging and keep on doing all day long.

That’s right, I’m a dietitian and I let my kids eat their candy until they, well, crash.

It’s not a strategy I landed on flippantly, nor did I read up on any scientific literature or parenting books before coming to this conclusion. In fact, my oldest child didn’t have a lick of anything sugary until she was nearly a year old (first time parent, firstborn child…ah, the dreams we have for ourselves when we first start out!). But once she, and later her sister, got a taste, their genetic predisposition to sweets (that’s all their dad, by the way) reared its head. And soon enough, every night after dinner, a dessert battle ensued.

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So we instilled “dessert night:” 3 nights a week, each kid picks their dessert of choice (based on what’s in the house), and we parents decide on the portion size. That worked...for a while. But then Halloween came around and the brutal candy fight resumed. I doled out a number of chocolates I deemed appropriate and then fought the good fight the rest of the night.

Skip over a few holidays and I was broken one Easter. I wanted to have my coffee in peace (no candy fights at 7am, please), but I also didn’t want to be a “no candy from the Easter bunny” mom (my mother was the one who gave out spider rings and raisins at Halloween. I was scarred). So I said, go for it. The trial rule was eat as much as you’d like for one day and that’s it. Back to our regularly scheduled dessert nights.

You know the punch line: it worked!

There were NO battles and NO bickering, and at the end of the night, they willingly forfeited their baskets.

Now, I know this isn’t an approach for everyone, and I’m sure other health professionals might disagree. But this works for me, and for my kids, and it takes the edge off of the “candy is forbidden” mentality. And, hey, my kids don’t exactly hate it, either.