Halloween Buy-Backs were all the rage this year, so I decided to get in on some of the action.

But instead of buying my daughter’s candy back with money, toys, or other non-consumables, I offered to buy back my daughter’s candy with … more candy.   Not just any candy, though, better candy.

Yup.  Instead of trying to de-candify Halloween I upped the ante.  I allowed my daughter to swap any candy she didn’t absolutely LOVE for candy she adores.

Volume is the Halloween problem “poster-child.”

The central food-message of Halloween has got to be gluttony (or is it greed?).  In my neighborhood, some kids use pillowcases to lug around their loot.  And the buy-back programs bring a level of sanity to the situation by reducing the sheer tonnage.

The buy-back programs, however, don’t do much to teach kids a general strategy for surviving other situations where there’s also an onslaught of sweets and treats.  That’s a lesson they really need to learn. After all, kids still have to navigate past Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday parties, the drugstore candy aisle and, of course, Grandma’s house. (And I don’t know about any buy-backs for those occasions.)

The “hidden” problem with Halloween is that it teaches kids to eat what they have, not what they want.

My daughter isn’t the kind of kid who goes crazy for candy.  In fact, it only takes about a week before she’s basically forgotten about the Halloween bag, even though it’s usually still overflowing with goodies.

The mere presence of the Halloween candy bag, however, means we almost never buy candy for my daughter (and she’s too careful with her allowance to buy candy for herself).  As a result, whenever my daughter gets a craving for some candy, her only choice is to go for whatever goods she’s got. And therein lies the problem.

You can only be truly satisfied by eating foods you love.  Unfortunately, Halloween teaches kids to eat what they get. It’s a kind of scarcity-response, even in the face of abundance.

Eat what you LOVE, not what’s available.

If there were ever a message that kids needed to learn, this is it.

Instead, the real Halloween lesson goes something like this: eat as much candy as you can even if you don’t like it that much.

And if you have a kid who doesn’t get candy that often, the message goes something like this: you better take advantage of this candy because you’re not getting a lot more of it in the near future.

I was surprised when my daughter sorted her candy to find out how few items made the cut.

And surprised when we went shopping by what she bought instead. (I guess there is no accounting for taste!) But there was even another surprise: my daughter bought less than she gave away, reducing the size of her supply by about one third!

Now, I’m confident my daughter’s stash is stocked with delights and that she’ll savor every bite. That’s the habit I want her to learn for a lifetime of holiday eating.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~