Along with Halloween comes a huge influx of candy into the household. Kids bring back the candy they collect, and adults bring in candy to hand out. Both supplies add extra dynamics to home food levels and put stress on diets, appetites and food choices. But it doesn’t have to be crazy with candy this Halloween. Use the following tips from mindfuleating.org to help your kids make mindful choices:
- Set a limit on the number of treats at one time.
- Set aside a time to eat the candy, during which the kids should put their full attention on the treats. The idea is to eat the candy mindfully and with undivided attention. Get the children away from the television and the games and structure a candy-eating time. This is the most importantstrategy of all, because it takes away the mindless eating of candy, when huge quantities can be eaten without any thought.
- Ask the kids to select the number they plan to eat at a particular time. How much candy can you eat and not feel uncomfortable? This may involve a little negotiation, but let the children be invested in the amount chosen.
- Have them count the number of chews and find out how many it takes to chew it up completely. Each candy or treat will have its own unique number of chews. With another bite, have the kids predict how many chews it will take to eat the candy before they start; then let them see how close they could guess.
- How long can it last? No chewing allowed. With two or more, this can be competitive—whose candy can last longest?
- How do candies taste in combination? With this bite, pick two candies and chew them slowly together. Can you taste each candy? What is the combined taste like? This activity can be repeated many times with different candies. Find the most delicious new taste sensation!
- Can you tell what the candy is if you don’t see it before you eat it? With this bite, the child closes his eyes and another person puts the food in the child’s mouth, asking, “What candy is this?” This exercise promotes deep sensing of tastes and textures.
- Can you tell the candy by smell? With this bite, the child closes his eyes and another person brings one of the treats to the child’s nose, asking, “What candy is this?” This exercise promotes deep sensing of aromas.
- Does candy change its tastes as you chew it? Ask the child to pay attention to the taste of the candy from the first chew to the last. What can you taste at first that you can’t taste later? What can you taste later that you couldn’t taste at first?
- With larger candies, such as a candy bar, ask the child into how many pieces the candy could be cut up. Then, the rule is that each piece must be completely chewed and swallowed before the next piece can be eaten.
As time goes on, let the children eat an item or so any way they would like. Also, ask them if they’d like to stop and have the rest of the candy they’ve chosen to eat later on. Just because they picked 10 pieces or so doesn’t mean that they can’t change their minds and stop before all are eaten. If they know the rules that every time they have Halloween candy they’re going to use these exercises, they will begin to make their own choices about how often they set aside special time for eating these treats. And most important: they will be developing special eating skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.