Food for the Holidays

From our blog from last year and how to survive the candy invasion from Halloween …

Food for the Holidays

With the holidays quickly around the corner here are some items to remember to assist with helping children who have poor regulation and may also have eating issues.  Below are several guidelines for the upcoming holiday

4 points to surviving the holiday:

  1. Minimize and limit the Changes
  2. Verbally and visual prepare your child in advance
  3. Feed your Child BEFORE the major holiday meal or event
  4. Control and Limit the Sweets


  • Limit the number of parties and event your child will attend based on their age
    • Preschoolers should only attend Halloween night and one family activity
    • Kindergarten – 2nd grade – Remember they already have school events and is enough in addition to Trick or Treating OR a Halloween party IF there is no Trick or Treating
  • Prepare your child in Advance
    • Children who are between 5-7 years old can prepare at least 2-4 weeks in advance to talk about what is the plan.  Children under 5 this discussion should take place a max of 2 weeks before the event.
    • This includes preparing your preschooler – 1st grade explain that people dress up for Halloween but the costumes are NOT REAL.
      • You should not let these kids answer the door since they are still in the magical thinking stage and as the evening gets later the costumes get scarier.  Remember – they still think superheroes are real – this goes for someone in a costume
    • PRACTICE dressing in NON Halloween costumes at least 2 weeks before.  This helps to not only find the right clothing but make the concept of “dress up” typical and not out of the ordinary
  • Feed your child BEFORE they go out Trick or Treating or attend a party
    • Offer a meal or snack of their preferred foods (a snack still consists of a protein, starch, and fruit or vegetable).
      • If their preferred foods are their breakfast foods then those items should be what are offered.
      • Make sure to try and load this meal with proteins since proteins help to counter balance sugars which are processed quickly.
      • NEVER make Halloween contingent on what they eat before they go out or contingent on being “good”
  • Control the number of Sweets that your child has access to before, during, and after Halloween
      • Typical registration to brain that the stomach is full takes 20 minutes when you eat sweets that is cut in ½ to 10 minutes because sweets suppresses the appetite for more nutritious foods while also leads to craving more surgery foods.
        • Child should only have one small “sweet treat” a day for no more than one week (7 days) to their age (e.g. 3 year old should only get one sweet treat once a day for 3 days in a row).
        • Allow the child to pick out which treats they want for the number of days and put those in a special place.
        • Do NOT make getting their sweet treat contingent on their eating.  Pick a meal where they automatically get their treat.
        • Do NOT allow free access to the rest of the Halloween candy.  Place it out of their reach for “later” and throw it out before the December holidays.
        • Make sure children know they need to ask first before taking a “sweet treat”
        • If the child eats all of their selected “sweet treats” early they do not get more as a consequence.
        •  IMPORTANT:  NEVER make sweet treats contingent on the child eating something first.  It over vilifies the food you are trying to encourage them to eat and over values the sweet treat.

Above items are taken from Dr. Kay Toomey lecture Surviving the Holidays with a Picky Eater.  Dr. Toomey is one of the leading experts in the field of feeding therapy.

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