So, I just found out from this blog that The Switch Witch is actually a thing. It’s a Halloween thing, and it’s kind of a horrible thing, but not in the fun Halloween way.
What’s The Switch Witch? Apparently it’s the Halloween version of The Tooth Fairy, except in my opinion way weirder. After kids have finished collecting their Halloween candy, The Switch Witch (presumably a well-meaning parent) comes along, takes the candy and replaces it with toys, thus sparing the kiddos from being exposed to all that sugary, evil (sarcasm!) candy.
I can only imagine that this started sometime in the last 15 years during the meteoric rise of the obesiepipanic and subsequent food fear hysteria. All that sugar can’t be good for our little ones right? Not when there is so much obesity out there, just waiting to get them! Won’t someone please think of the children!?
I get it. It’s hard enough as a parent to get your kid to eat a regular meal with some vegetables without the specter of all that Halloween booty hanging around. I know that many parents are constantly worried that their kids are going to end up nutritionally deficient and it will be all their fault. It’s a big responsibility to be a parent and everyone is trying their best.
But this Switch Witch thing. At best, it’s misguided. At worst, it has the potential to kick off a lifetime disordered eating, especially around candy which – hello! – exists even after childhood ends. That’s right, your child is going to grow up and continue to live in a world where he or she is confronted with candy practically on a daily basis (especially if they work in an office). And you know what food tastes best? Forbidden foods. So when your adult child is eventually faced with that most forbidden of foods, candy, and there’s no fun toy being offered in its stead, what do you think is going to happen? They simply will not be prepared to deal with the barrage of sweets the modern world presents.
Kids know when foods are being restricted. They become experts at sneaking food. Some become little food hoarders. They go to school and find ways to get it. Research has shown that when highly palatable “fun” foods are restricted, kids eat more of them (and also end up larger than they might be otherwise). Your kids are smart – just like you are raising them to be! They won’t be fooled by this kind of restriction, and in fact it will end up doing exactly the opposite of what you hoped to do, which is to make them into healthy eaters.
My suggestion? Use Halloween candy as a way to teach kids that all foods can fit into a healthy diet. This takes away the power sugary foods (or any particularly desirable foods) might have and allows kids to explore all foods freely (because that, after all, is what learning to eat is all about).
Here are some ideas to try:
Read more about incorporating “forbidden” foods from the guru of childhood nutrition, Ellyn Satter.
So while The Switch Witch is not nearly as mean as this:
…it does teach the wrong message about “forbidden” foods and eating. Happy Halloween!
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Welcome to food freedom! Dare to Not Diet LLC is owned by Glenys Oyston, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Therapist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. It's time to feel good about eating, your body, and your health.