My kids LOVE Halloween. They plan for months what they’re going to dress up as, which usually changes a few times before they make their final decision. They count down the days until they can dress up for school and go Trick or Treating to GET CANDY! It’s often touted as they’re favorite holiday. I’m not sure if it’s the dressing up part, the Trick or Treating experience, the staying up late or the actual candy that makes it so great, but to them it is the BEST day EVER.
After coming home with all their loot, we dump it all out onto the floor and separate it into different types of candy. I remember when they were younger they didn’t know what any of the candies were or tasted like, they just knew it was candy and it was GOOD! Now, they’re starting to recognize the labels and have developed their favorite kind. So, we sort out the ones they don’t like and donate them to a good cause. The kids eat a couple pieces that night, whatever they want. Except maybe the Ring Pop or similar because it’s too close to bed time and those take forever to finish! The rest we put in a bag and it sits in the pantry. I may put a piece in their lunch bag for school or they may ask to have a piece or two after dinner. I allow them to eat it, pretty much at will. And you know what, sometimes they forget about. Sometimes they get really excited when they see it and remember what is in there. Sometimes the candy bag is still in the pantry come Easter.
So, why don’t we do the Switch Witch? If you haven’t heard, the Switch Witch takes the kids’ candy after a day or two and leaves shiny new toys as a replacement. This gets the candy out of the house and no one has to deal with it.
The problem, in my opinion, with the Switch Witch is that kids need to learn how to be around all types of food. If they don’t learn as a kid, they will find out as an adult. If a child grows up believing one should not have these fun foods in their home, they will feel shame when they eat them. Guilt and shame should never be associated with food. This can lead to out of control behavior, binging and secretive eating.
Now let’s say you are the adult who cannot be around said fun foods (Candy). You keep them out of the house because you can’t control yourself. You don’t feel any guilt because you’re not tempted by anything. All of the sudden, you have Fun Size Candy Bars in the house. You think, I haven’t eaten one in so long, what’s the harm of having a little? A little turns into a lot and then the tummy ache starts and you feel awful, vowing never to eat it again. Sound familiar? It’s quite common and is known as the Forbidden Food Phenomena. Depriving yourself a certain food, only makes you want it more. It’s a mental game. Your brain lights up when you’re around these magical forbidden foods. In this situation, you are giving the food way too much power. This is a disordered eating tendency that can turn into a more serious situation. It can take up a lot of your time and energy thinking about these foods, potentially causing you unneeded stress when you come face to face with said food. I truly believe that making candy a forbidden food can set children up for disordered eating tendencies. Hence, the reason we Ditch the Witch.
The good news is there is a way to get over it. It involves allowing yourself permission to eat Forbidden Food X. If you allow yourself to SLOWLY eat this food everyday/whenever you crave it, knowing you can have it tomorrow and the next day, it will lose its appeal (power). As you slowly eat this food and really taste it you may start to notice all the sugar/salt/fat/X that is in this food. You may notice how it is making you feel, long before the 5th piece. You may notice your craving is satisfied after a bite or two and anything after that starts being less desirable.
This is why we Ditch the Witch.