There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are changing to beautiful colours of yellow, red and orange and it is getting darker earlier (way earlier) – all evidence that autumn is here. For many children, this means that one of their most anticipated holidays of the season is near: Halloween! Kids everywhere look forward to trick-or-treating on Halloween and this can be a dilemma for many parents who worry about the sugary treats that their kids will be eating.
I often remind parents in this situation of Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. Sugary treats in and of themselves are not the problem; it is when these treats replace healthy foods and are frequently eaten instead meals and snacks that they can be a problem.
Parents and caregivers are responsible for offering regular meals and sit-down snacks. In other words, parents decide what to provide and when to provide it. Children, in turn, are responsible for deciding how much to eat and whether or not to eat what is offered. This allows children to learn to self-regulate food intake (including sweet treats) by listening to their internal cues of hunger and fullness to decide how much to eat.
Now let’s apply the Division of Responsibility in Feeding to the pile of Halloween candy that your kids bring home on October 31!
As the parent or caregiver, you decide when to offer the treats. Maybe you will offer some with an after-school snack or perhaps as dessert a few times a week. When candy is on the menu, offer it along with the snack or meal and let your child choose what and how much to eat from everything that is offered. Eventually, the novelty of the candy will wear off and you will notice they will begin to eat less of the candy and more of the healthier options as long as you keep the structure of regular meals and sit-down snacks. Kids, like adults, crave variety when it comes to eating and will tire quickly of eating only the candy portion of their meal or snack.
How will you handle Halloween this year?
Another tell-tale sign of autumn is the fall harvest in our gardens, communities, and grocery stores! I myself love autumn because of the food we reap from the fall harvest: colourful winter squash from my garden, B.C. McIntosh apples (think homemade applesauce and apple pie!), and pears from the neighbours’ trees, to name a few.
The recipe below is a favourite dish in our house and I often make it before the trick-or-treating begins.
Adapted from Dietitians of Canada‘s Simply Great Food
- Olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 medium-sized potatoes, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1 small to medium-sized butternut squash or 1 sweet potato, chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger root, grated
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 can (19 oz / 540 ml) diced tomatoes
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 4 cups low-sodium broth
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, squash, ginger, cumin and cinnamon; cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas and broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until vegetables are just tender.
About Beth Evans
As a registered dietitian, Beth is dedicated to helping individuals, families and communities make the healthiest choices available to them, and enjoy eating well based on their unique realities and nutrition needs. Juggling work and a very busy family life, Beth is grateful for the time she spends with her family enjoying family meals, long walks and bike rides. She also loves the quiet times exploring in her garden, experimenting in the kitchen, and practicing yoga and meditation.