How I Handle Halloween

Watch this week’s video blog to find out how I handle Halloween with three little kids!


  1. Maxine

    You are one of the most awesome women I have ever known.
    Thank you, with lots of love and respect!

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  2. Kristi

    I appreciate hearing your solutions to problems! Thank you, so much.

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  3. Mary Granger

    The key for our family has always been to notice the effect the food has on you. Forbidding certain food items because they’re not good for you never worked for me, and I never attempted that with my children. If you could point out a good argument in favor of my eating or not eating a particular food item that wasn’t “because it’s healthy,” there was much more likelihood of my paying attention.

    We have 7 children, now ages 15 to 26, and we’ve eaten a plant-based diet since before the birth of our first child. When friends and family heard that my husband and I were planning to raise our children on a diet of grains, beans, seafood, and land and sea vegetables, the typical question was “What’s going to happen when they leave home?” To which we responded, “As with everything else, they’ll make their own choices then, and our job is to prepare them to make good choices.”

    We never did Halloween candy, but as the children grew older and were attending events where the typical fare was being served, they began experimenting. For us as Eastern Orthodox Christians, Pascha was the blow-out event when our children could consume anything and everything. One son’s response to his introduction to Coca-Cola was projectile vomiting. Not all responses to unfamiliar food items were that violent, but because they had a foundation of orderly eating at home, they were able to see the correspondence between what they were eating and how they felt. For example, our runner would notice knee pain while running and be able to attribute that to too much flour, or another one was having problems with fears before gymnastic meets and was able to make the link between that and the way she had been eating.

    There were years when Nativity celebrations included large amounts of sugar, and others when there was none at all, and there were times in our life when we ate more meat in a week than we had in the previous decade. We always returned to three meals a day of plant based meals. Without our pointing it out, our children were able to appreciate the difference between chaotic eating and orderly eating. Sometimes chaotic eating is fun, especially when you’re joining a group of people in celebrating and don’t want to separate yourself by refusing the food (even if you don’t really consider it food) being offered in love.

    Every family is different, and circumstances change by the day, month and year, as do “food policies” within the family. My husband and I have not changed our minds about the way we prefer to eat at home, but the way it looks day-to-day from one year to the next has had to change along with the changes our family has gone through.

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  4. Pam

    I certainly know where you’re coming from. I was super strict with my kids and the sugary foods they weren’t allowed to eat when they were growing up. No sugared cereals, no candy or sugar junk food at their beck and call. And it fully backfired on me. When they were left to make their own decisions with food, they always picked the (what I considered) “bad” foods. My daughter is now 26 and struggles with her weight (genetics doesn’t help her at all, my husband’s family is obese and she has his makeup, built just like him and his sister) but a lot of her problems stem from food choices. My son (32) is built more like me, a slight bit overweight, but not fat by any means. There is no easy answer with kids cause no matter how much we try to mold them into our ideas of thinking, eventually they have to make their own decisions as they grow. Love your blogs and all you info. You are helping a lot of people make decisions that benefit them instead of cripple them. Thanks

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  5. patti

    When my boys were little, I would offer them a few pieces of their favorite candy and I would store the rest. To my shock , they would not even finish those pieces and never ask for the rest. I would end up eating it or using it for parties etc. Later we donated it to the troops. ( Mainly to keep me away from the candy ) Neither of my boys really like candy to this day. On Halloween we made ” witches brew” a natural fruit drink and we would add plastic spiders , we’d bob for apples and make plain pop corn and for dinner we would have yams with cinnamon on them so we would make our own tradition. My older boy would go door to door and ask for donations to unicef and not take the candy, folks thought that was so adorable he would collect a lot of money. I think each family should do what feels right and doable. I got lucky in that my kids never liked sugar very much.

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  6. Dan

    A lot depends on the attitude of the spouse. My wife has no problem with addiction and sees no problem with “everything in moderation”. We have always let our kids eat candy on halloween, valentines and easter, but after they were allowed one piece of candy per day. This meant, basically, they were eating candy all year! I didn’t agree with it at the time, but I think I should have gone with what my friend did, which was to let her kids eat ALL the candy at once. They became so sick, they didn’t even want to see candy for a long time.

    P.S. Since I’ve given up sugar and flour there’s a huge backlog of cookies, pies, cakes etc that would have been gone in days, but now with only my wife and son eating them, they last for weeks.

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  7. Nikkie

    Hi Susan,

    I think you are doing the right thing. Your kids won’t die and won’t be addictive because they eat candy once in awhile and I think it is important at their age not to feel an outsider. It’s our nature to fit in. Once we feel fit in, we feel save and we can develop our own identity.

    When they are older they will fully understand (because you will teach them) why eating candy and other stuff isn’t healthy.
    And when they will live on their own they will make their OWN decision about sugar and flour in the house.

    Maybe next year you can let them choose 5 pieces or something and throw the rest away, just to give the signal that you can eat candy occasionally but that it is not necessary to eat an absurd amount of it to enjoy.

    My kids are 20, 17 and 14 years old and they understand why we don’t have candy or stuff at home anymore. I’m sure they eat it outside but not on a daily base. They make their own choices. When we have something to celebrate we do eat cake/pie at home but just one piece and we enjoy the moment together.

    My experience is that since my children do not find candy or chips in the closet anymore they are not complaining about it because they understand why it is not there anymore. And the oldest one who is really high on the susceptibility scale (like me) is happy we don’t have it in the house anymore.


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    1. Dominc D

      You almost couldn’t be more wrong.

      “It’s our nature to fit in. Once we feel fit in, we feel save and we can develop our own identity.”
      Really? Who writes this fairy tale stuff for you?

      So you think that once we have capitulated and conformed to the socialization of the masses that are increasingly diseased, we will feel safe, and THEN we can be an individual and develop our own identity?

      The food industry is happy to hear what you have to say because they are betting that a high percentage of kids that follow your advice will be irreversibly indoctrinated (addicted) by the time you let them decide for themselves.

      Now, put the candy down. Walk away from the candy.

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      1. Nikkie

        Hi Dominc,

        I do feel what you are saying, I do understand what you mean, but the world isn’t just wrong or right. I do not advice my children to eat a lot of candy to fit in any group, I advice them to do NOT. There is a big difference between advicing and forcing.

        We are not capitulating and conforming to the socialization of the masses that are increasingly diseased if we let our children choose when they want to join a party and eat some candy. That is exaggerating big time.

        Every child wants to feel accepted is a group of other children that IS nature. When you make your children different by forbidding them to eat any candy at all there will be some awkward moments at Halloween and other parties for them, your children could be seen as outsiders, that IS nature. Everybody who is or acts different is at risk to get picked on. I guess every person who has a weightproblem experienced this. Off course that is not what we (as healthy thinking adults) want because we are human and no animals but for young children this instinctive rules feel stronger than the rules we are teaching them about how to treat each other and why not to hurt each other.

        I am not telling my children to follow any group blind just to fit in, but I also won’t force them to follow me blind. I give them a feeling of selfworth by letting them develop and follow their own believes. And yes, sometimes children choose different than you wished for, but that is not the end of the world or the end of their health, that is psychological development.

        I believe that a lot of addictive behaviour finds its roots in youth, when children do not feel that they can and may control their own lives and feel accepted. I understand that heredity also plays a big role but wether an addiction will develop or not is depending on how a person feels about him/herself, I believe.

        So that’s why I try to give my children the feeling of self control and self esteem by arming them against temptation with knowledge and awareness, not by forcing and forbidding.

        Dominc, I hope you understand what I mean to say.

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  8. Suzan

    I was told by the Pediatric Endocrinologist that my newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic daughter could eat what ever she wanted as long as she dosed insulin for the carbs. So on our way home from Children’s Mercy Hospital, where she was hospitalized for 3 days, we stopped by the store and bought all sorts of non-food, packaged crap – not because we wanted to or felt good about it – but because it had all of the dietary information written on each package. We knew what to do with a prepackaged bag of Cheez Its – but had no idea about fruits or veggies. Speed ahead several months and I find myself reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book, The End of Diabetes, and learn that Type 1 Diabetics have a 1 in 3 chance of dying by the age of 50. And here is my preteen daughter eating packaged crap!!! Needless to say, I decided that change was needed and my daughter’s life depended on it! These past 3 years haven’t been easy and I hate being the “heavy”, so we make decisions together to decide how we will enjoy the holidays and special occasions. We are far from perfect – but feel good about the direction we have been in and the great progress we have made. Of course, my extended family thinks we are freaks for eating vegetables… but my daughter (& son’s) are worth it! And just wait until they see us now…Happy, Thin, & Free!!! 🙂

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    1. Dominc D

      Don’t you just hate it when a “doctor” over 20 years of education and training give you EXACTLY THE WRONG advice?!

      We have a food industry that doesn’t care about health, and we have a health industry that knows nothing about food. THERE is the problem.

      Kudos to you and your daughter for figuring it out on your own. Your daughter is very fortunate to have you for a mom.

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  9. Ekaterina

    I have a 7 years old girl who is very educated already on GMO’s and junk food. We do actually watch documentaries on food together. Halloween for her is more about to dress up than eating candy, in fact she doesn’t, she collect them then gives them back to the other trick or treaters that come to our door. It makes her “the kind” girl she want to be. I don’t particularly tell her don’t eat the candy, but I remind her that the candies are loaded with GMO sugar, and she’s seen enough films on that to decide. Now, I do make homemade dark chocolate truffles or saffron dates, or some other healthy mouthwatering treat for after dinner and that’s what she is looking forward to. I, personally buy and give to the trick or treaters individually wrapped prunes, as a healthy alternative to average candy. GMO’s are not safe, not even in moderation, not even for 2 days, in my opinion. I think the approach to this is talking to your kids, and believe me it takes many many talks and in detail, watching docu-films, let them see for themselves what GMO does to rats. The earlier you start, the better. I also homeschool and I believe that helps filtering the abusive marketing to kids. Birthday parties are the toughest, however, I feed her well before so when it’s time for the GMO and growth hormone loaded pizza, she rejects and keep on playing. Again, she knows after the party, there will be healthy dessert at home, so no deprivation, just doing things our way. Moderation doesn’t work when it comes to poison. Just my opinion 🙂

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    1. Dominc D

      Great comment….. ” Moderation doesn’t work when it comes to poison. ”
      Susan has a Ph.D. and can’t figure that out? Really?

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      1. Shirley J Williams

        Your comment is mean and unnecessary. As I see it, there is a dilemma – I believe Susan is in touch with her children’s susceptibility or risk of being addicted to the things we/I am now chained to. According to her blog, Susan’s kids do not have health problems and have a healthy “food attitude”. At least twice a year they gorge on whatever junk is available and carry on from there; a pleasant world for a child. Yes, it may seem that she is compromising, but it doesn’t seem as if it is causing them any problems. (Sometimes compromise is good.) Because of a dentist (and Mr. Tooth), that visited my second grade class, and demonstrated the effects of candy and bubble gum on our teeth, candy is not a problem for me. I am 68 yrs of age, never eat the stuff, and have no desire for it. However, I am very high on the susceptibility scale. I have very inappropriate behavior with food. I can binge on something as healthy as cooked steel cut oats or whole wheat bread. Because of Susan’s blogs I now know that grapes, nuts and seeds, and rice are real problem foods for me. Amazing thing is I would never knowingly eat foods with added sugar, white flour, GMOs or HFCS, and heaven forbid, saturated animal fat. I am mostly a vegetarian and avoid most animal protein. I eat egg whites and occasionally fish. But that doesn’t alter the fact that I rate very high on the scale. I am a food addict. Susan’s kids don’t seem to be at risk for addictive behaviors with food. If Susan’s kids are satisfied with gorging on junk twice a year, then Susan will surely have done a great job. More important, since the parents are not demonstrating and reinforcing the behavior and the need for junk food, I believe the behavior will not continue into their teens and adult lives. Monitoring and guiding not policing our children will help them to understand and develop healthy behaviors with food and life. Thanks Susan for all that you do. God bless.

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    2. Shirley J

      Food for thought: I am truly proud of your daughter. She seems like a great kid. I am reminded of when my husband quit smoking; decades ago. He was so adamant about the effects of tobacco, that he would not give his cartons of unsmoked cigarettes to others. He trashed them and refused to allow anyone to smoke in or around our home. He said if it’s bad/poison for him then he would not help anyone else to harm themselves. I guess I should worry about GMOs, but for at least once a year, I throw a little caution to the wind and give the trick-or-treaters a little candy. Mostly because the scientific community has not adequately identified the problems with GMOs. For now, from all that I’ve read, the main issue is that GMO foods should have clear labeling for the consumer to have an informed choice. If GMOs were my main concern, then I would not offer it to others. I do not eat candy mostly because I am afraid of the damage it could cause my teeth if I do not brush within 20 minutes of eating it. I do not impose this fear on others. (It is a difficult fear to live with. I brush my teeth a lot. And have even developed receding gum-lines possibly because of this ritualistic behavior.) But I do remind kids to brush often and especially after consuming so much Halloween candy. The parents with the kids usually assure me that the kids brush and don’t really eat all of the candy (they’ve received). Susan’s kids are probably the exception. Take care.

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  10. Urmila

    Thanks for addressing this. We eat very healthy at home, tons of veggies and fruit. But though my 7 year old understands and agrees with me, my 3 year old is constantly trying to get sugar. The kids get ice cream/sugar once a week but my little one is constantly begging for more. Is it possible that she is already addicted to sugar? We don’t do much flour – don’t eat breads/pastas/pizzas but if she gets it, she loves to eat it, at birthday parties etc. I worry about my little one.

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  11. Barbara

    My concern is all the High Fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes in all the cheaply made candy that people usually buy to give away. When my kids were young one of the neighbors gave toothbrushes and another gave pencils. I like the quarter idea also. I am thankful we lived in a small neighborhood and I didn’t know then what I know now. I am so thankful for ALL the information available about the whole food industry.

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  12. Celeste Magers

    I don’t have children and I am a senior citizen, so I’m only partially known in my neighborhood. I’m a low-glycemic vegan and don’t feel right about giving the kids sugary candy for Halloween. And If I made something healthy, my bet is that the parents would throw it away, since they would be concerned about the safety of something they didn’t recognize from a lady they don’t know too well. So my solution is to give out quarters. And you should see how the kids love it! At first they’re a little confused, but then they run to Mom or Dad shouting “I got money!” and seem quite happy about it. And I don’t have any leftover candy for me to be tempted by! The quarters are always good next year.

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  13. Ronna Berezin

    Dominic D makes a strong case for what he believes. My own children ( now close to 50 and one 51 never did alot fon Halloween probably bc I never really appreciated any of the social holidays. My kids from age 2 on were ked to be independent thinking people , starting school early and learning easily. They “caught sense” ( to use an American Indian expression very early in life and actually became educated enough to make their own choices ( which were better than mine) in their efforts to navigate life, Always aware that they would be accountable and responsible for those choices……. from ages 2 on!

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  14. Cindy

    I gave out tiny bottles of bubbles and little “worry dolls” to tell your worries to (you then place them under your pillow and they take care of worrying so you don’t have to). They were both a big hit! My friend’s little 4-yr-old girl was not allowed to eat sugar. She was at my sister’s house and kept sneaking M&Ms from a candy dish and hiding them under the sofa cushion. I think Susan’s approach is perfect — you give children the example, the tools and the experience to serve them when they need it most.

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  15. Kat

    How about making your own Halloween candy together?

    I bake without flour and sugar, and there are lots of treats to be made by fruits and nuts. Or if you are going to “cheat” eat a few pieces of very high quality candy, like gourmet chocolate hazelnuts or homemade ice cream sweetened with honey or stevia or another less chemical sugar alternative.

    To me American candy is an acquired taste, I didn’t grow up here, and I never crave it because I really don’t like the taste. It tastes very artificial and low quality.

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  16. Lisa

    Hi Susan,
    Do your children feel pretty sick after those “treat” days?

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  17. Steve Bivens

    I don’t do Halloween. I used to buy candies for the kids, but always wound up eating any that were left over. Now I am diabetic and can’t eat them at all.

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  18. Dominc D

    We each decide what is truth, what is our environment, and they we decide how close our reality will follow truth and how much will follow our environment.

    Waiting until your children are PAST 7 years old to teach them of the miracle of the human body and how to appreciate the wonder, harmony, balance, and sufficiency of natural eating….is waiting too long. There has been too much indoctrination done by school, TV, friends, etc. and now you are faced with UNLEARNING.

    So a COMPROMISE is like “being a little bit pregnant”. It doesn’t work.

    There does not have to be a “false choice” of 1) unlimited addictive eating and 2) hyperstrict denial.
    Those are not the only two choices.
    Kids can be taught to choose the third choice, which is to DECLINE (not deny) the compromise of (just a little bit) participating in and thereby accepting the “reality” of Halloween.

    Of course, the compromise is a slippery slope. As stated, IN ADDITION to halloween there are OTHER EXCEPTIONS like Easter, Birthday parties (lots every year), Christmas, July 4th, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, etc, etc. This is just a slowly eroding slope that will end up waaaaaay too close to addictive eating of addictive foods.

    The POSITIVE approach of living in GRATITUDE for our miraculous bodies, and the miraculous foods of nature, and the miraculous benefits of an aware, unimpaired spirit are what should be taught. If they are, kids will look at other kids eating candy and feel sorrow and compassion for them, instead of being envious. THAT is a spirit that is living “in the moment” and in harmony with the reality THEY CHOSE.

    Even if parents don’t completely succeed this way, it is best to try so the end result doesn’t end up horribly COMPROMISED.

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    1. Steve Bivens

      Love this: “kids will look at other kids eating candy and feel sorrow and compassion for them, instead of being envious. ” This is a great reframing, thanks!

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      1. Amy

        Our daughters are ages 20 & 22 now. When they were only 4 & 6 we stopped doing candy for holidays and substituted other non-food treats instead. Some were critical of us, others were inspired, but the bottom line is that today these two young women mentor their peers who have a range of emotional and health issues. They have a healthy weight, are successful and are delightful to be with. Others see and want that for themselves. They truly feel sorry for the masses and feel blessed to have received the truth early in life so they are not having to heal from diseases as some of their twenty something friends are already facing.

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        1. Barbara

          What kinds of non food treats did you have success with? I’ve got 4 kids ages 9 to 17 and the downside I find to non food treats is a) what’s comparable to exciting candy without costing more than candy? And b) even when I plan non food, family and friends are still bringing “junk” into the environment and so the kids still feel left out. I hope to figure out ways to reconstruct how we celebrate

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          1. Amy

            Non-food treats can be more expensive, so just opt for fewer. Homemade coupons are a neat idea- one hug, sit at the head of the table one night at dinner, you pick the restaurant, you pick the radio station next car trip, etc. We love the idea of coin collecting and copper coins are inexpensive and beautiful for children ( to collect. We got some fun stuff from Oriental Trading Post too. I hope this list gets the creative juices flowing. Good luck!

  19. Roslyn Mackenzie

    I appreciate your insights about your children’s diet.i’d love to know what they generally do eat…apart from breakfast+what kind of snacks they enjoy (without sugar+wheat)..and what school lunches fo you do? (That’s my struggle!)

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  20. Cathie

    Nice balanced approach. You have to acknowledge that kids are kids and port of this culture with friends. I know people whose parents felt compelled to make issues over certain parts of our culture and no one else cares or remembers, but their kids do and it only negatively affected the kids.

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    1. Dominc D

      Nope. You either believe that YOU (and your kids) are in charge of manifesting your reality or you don’t. Begging off to “the culture” is capitulation and surrender.

      If done properly, the kids are NOT negatively affected, but edified, inspired, and empowered to live and manifest THEIR reality and paradigm.

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      1. Ronna Berezin

        I couldn’t have said it better! Susan’s first premise is predicated on an irrelevant concept of food craving. It would have been more mature to think of the long term goal which has nothing to do with food: raising independent thinkers who are confident enough to take charge of their life. With your children as well as your supporters one needs to be the change he/she wants to create( w/o apologies) !

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      2. Judith

        Thank you for your supportive insight. I had a very important job to do in raising my child. Halloween was not part of my culture, I lived in America but I am not American therefore I only adopted the parts of the American culture that supports me. We explained to her that it is simply not something we celebrate and why. She never went to trick or treat and she is now 26, happy, healthy and holy and very successful. We taught her to take charge of her life from age 3. It is possible. No Halloween, no television, no fast food (we are vegetarians), no ice cream (she was lactose intolerant). It could be done successfully. Children are smarter than we think.

        Children indulge in binge eating of sweets, sugar and flour and then we set them loose on their teachers.

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  21. Karen

    “… and [eye roll] chicken fingers [sigh]…” ha ha…

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  22. Jeanie

    Love this! We know that there is a very real “forbidden fruit” syndrome. I love your approach of sanity and moderation on certain days or times. You are really educating us.

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  23. Lisa

    What a refreshing approach Susan!

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