Lessons learned when candy experiment is conducted

In the past, our Halloweens have included a lot of CIA-type planning to keep sugar out of my kids’ cavity-prone little mouths. We’ve had the Halloween fairy visit, whisking away piles of candy in exchange for art supplies and money; we’ve hosted a trading post in which the kids could trade out candy for gum, cheese sticks, tea bags and little squares of high quality dark chocolate.

This year, our original party line was (as always) to weed out the most sinister candy: the food coloring, lollipop sugar-baths and chewy little molar-snatchers. We let the kids go big on Halloween night, with the option to trade out pieces of candy for a quarter, and then move into a parceling plan of two pieces per day, in which they could choose the timing.

And then, on Day 1, Nov. 1, Col and Rose’s friend Kiva was here for a sleepover, and Rose asked if she could have some candy. I reminded her that she already had her two pieces (at 8 a.m.!) and couldn’t have anymore until tomorrow. Rose said, “OK” and skipped away.

I then realized I didn’t want to be the candy police, I didn’t want to keep track of how much she had eaten, and I was curious about what sort of natural limits she would discover with complete freedom. So, at 4 p.m. Nov. 1, I announced the new decree: You are in charge of your candy, eat what you want and when it’s done it’s done.

And then Rose said, “I’d like to just go on having two pieces a day.”

(Insert laugh track here.)

Rose’s eyes waxed like full moons and she asked politely for her candy basket, which became the object of play for the rest of the night. The sound of wrappers being husked off tiny chocolate logs was the soundtrack of their night.

Meanwhile, I talked myself down from streaking into their room and blocking the candy basket with my body, forbidding them to eat another piece. I was way more jacked up on adrenaline and other endogenous chemicals than they ever appeared to be.

They all fell asleep promptly at 9:30 and were totally well-behaved.

I heard the first scrumple of a candy wrapper at 7 a.m. the next morning and by 9 a.m., Rose’s candy was history. (She had generously shared at least half of it with Kiva. Apologies to Kiva’s parents).

Col forgot about his candy for over a week and then declared that he only wants to eat his in school lunches.

I admit that I hoped Rose would get sick or bored of so much candy, but apparently she didn’t (hello, mini me!). I honestly don’t know what the best answer is to the whole conundrum of Halloween candy, especially when some family members can practically hear sugar calling to them from the kitchen shelf.

But I did find it interesting that these kids, who do not eat a lot of sugar, never showed any ill effects of eating so much candy all at once. And, like all experiments, hypotheses were tested and lessons were learned.

Reach Rachel Turiel at sanjuandrive@frontier.net.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.

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