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A Dietitian's Tips for a Balanced, Non-diet Halloween

A Dietitian's Tips for a Balanced, Non-diet Halloween

article by Emily Marr MS, RDN of


"The parents' role is to decide when, where and what to eat – through structured mealtimes and satiating balanced meals. The child's role is to decide if they will eat and how much. [the division of responsibility in feeding" - sDOR

Holidays that are centered around food of any kind are wrought diet-culture focused thinking. It can be tricky for parents to understand how to both make choices for their kids that keep them healthy and that empower them to listen to the cues their body gives them about what it wants and needs without succumbing to the clutches of a diet-culture that loves to make certain foods "bad" and other foods "good" (and as such, make us feel one way or the other about ourselves). Our favorite Intuitive Eating Dietitian, Emily Marr of @marrvelouseats is back on the Sneakz blog to give parents her top tips for how to have a balanced, non-diet approach to Halloween.

1. Eat the most nutritious stuff first.

Before you take the kids out trick-or-treating, give them a well-balanced meal full of protein, carbs, and fat. Then, when the candy pile comes in you can let them trust their hunger and fullness cues and eat as many treats until bedtime – brushing and flossing mandatory! They are being curious, eating things they know they love and probable trying new things too as we would encourage with all foods. They might overeat – but it is Halloween, this is not an everyday thing.

2. Let them eat as much as they want the 1st and 2nd night, and guide overeating with an attitude of curiosity, not judgment or shame. 

    • Food policing about ingredients or how “bad” a treat is for their health will take the fun away. Do you like people policing your food when you have a treat? Likely not, you want to enjoy it!- this can also cause them to sneak treats or eat more than they would have originally later on.
    • If your child eats to the point of uncomfortable fullness and does not feel well, try not to be judgmental. Talk to them about it, “why do you think your belly feels like that?” or share a personal experience such as “when I eat lots of treats my tummy hurts too so I just eat a few at a time.” This allows your child to notice what happens when they nourish themselves this way without shaming them about their decision to indulge.

    3. Re-evaluate your own relationship with food!

    Do you restrict Halloween candy or other foods from your life? As a parent, by role-modeling that you enjoy treats, as well as yummy balanced meals and snacks, you demonstrate an “all foods fit attitude,” rather than restrict and binge approach. Parents eating habits and attitudes, as well as dissatisfaction regarding body image, are most often modeled by children. So let your kids enjoy the costumes, candy, and all the fun that Halloween has to offer. This will help them grow into competent eaters who trust their body cues rather than trick them.


    Follow Emily on Instagram for more amazing ideas, insights, and tricks focused on forming an intuitive relationship to our bodies and to how we nourish them.

    **Dietrich, S. (2018, October 26). Halloween candy conundrum: How to trust not trick our kids. [Blog post] Retrieved from