Candy Craze: Our Family's Solution

//Candy Craze: Our Family's Solution

Raising healthy kids is great in theory, but sometimes practically walking that out is a whole other story!

I don’t know what happens at your house, but our kids bring home handfuls of candy on a daily basis!  Where are they getting all this candy, you might ask?  You probably already know because this may be your experience too!

They get chocolates for good achievement in school, lollipops at the bank, and various candy at church, and the free cookie at Kroger (I must admit we partake of these on occasion as fun little free “dates” with our kids).  Oh, and don’t forget the cupcake piled 2 inches high with icing for Mary’s birthday and a take-home Goodie Bag to top it off!

It’s amazing how kids are so different. I have one child who could care less about the candy and one who asks for it 24-7 if she knows it’s there.  I fight the urge to take it all and just dump it in the trash.  (Note to self: Rash responses are not recommended if you are trying to actually teach your children how to make good choices for themselves!!).

The result of our sugar inundated children is this staggering statistic from a recent study: The average American consumes 53 tsp. of sugar a day!

All these little “extras” or treats my kids bring home daily don’t even account for the average American kids intake of soda, flavored beverages, fruit roll ups, sugar-filled Go-Gurts, and so many other sources where sugar is hidden.

Some of you may be thinking, “Come on. You can’t take all their candy away. And even if I wanted to, how could I actually pull it off?”  None of us wants our kids to be the weird kid at school eating raisins while everyone else eats ice cream.

So while we don’t want to be extremists, I’m sure there are other mom’s out there (please let me know who you are so I don’t think I’m crazy!) 🙂 who are very concerned about the alarming amount of sugar our kids are offered daily (again, not to mention how much they ingest unknowingly from hidden sources).  Maybe you are reading this and are wondering what the big deal about sugar is anyways.  If that is you, read this to see 146 Reasons why sugar is ruining your health.

Our Solution to the Candy Craze

Our goal in coming up with a solution to the massive amounts of candy trickling through my kids fingers every day was to involve them in the process.  We really wanted them to own this, rather than it being mom and dad on an angry tirade taking all their candy, and for some (i.e. our 5 year old) their happiness, away.

We sat our kids down at the table for a big family discussion after we had them find every piece of candy in the house.  We firmly believe in educating and equipping our kids so that one day, when we are not around, they can make their own choices based on their knowledge and understanding.  Our pile was high on the kitchen table (yes, we still have Halloween candy!).

We asked the kids if the candy looked good to them.  The wide eyes and saliva dripping down their chins was answer enough. Then we began to discuss the all-too familiar story of Adam and Eve. We asked the children if they thought the fruit looked yummy or if it was rotten and yucky.  Of course they answered that it probably looked delicious.  Genesis tells us that Eve took the fruit because it looked good to eat.  But, we asked, just because it looked good, was it good for her and why?  Our oldest immediately answered, “No!  It looked good but it was bad for her…it brought death and sadness and pain.”

So just because something looks good, it doesn’t mean it is good or that it will be life producing.  So that’s where the choice comes in:

They could either keep all this candy, that looks good but will hurt their bodies and not promote life and strength, OR they could give me all their candy and we would take them on a trip to get special candy that wouldn’t be as harmful to their bodies.  Furthermore, in the future, when they get candy at church or school, if they were willing to bring it home and trade it in, they could pick something from our new candy jars.

So they decided this sounded like a really good deal.  They picked out one last thing from their bad candy pile as they said good-bye to it (and yes, at this point, we did throw it all away…but it was their choice, not ours!).

Then we loaded up and headed over to Whole Foods to pick out some new treats. They were so excited, running from one bin to the next, reading ingredients, etc.  They knew to look for things that didn’t say “Sugar” because that is what we just got rid of.  Here are some of their treasures.

Our Candy Swap Adventure Treasures:

  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels
  • Yogurt Covered Pretzels
  • Sun-Drops (like M & Ms)
  • Organic Animal Cookies
  • 100% Whole Fruit, Fruit Roll-Ups (Costco carries large boxes!)
  • Organic Gummy Bears
  • Organic Lolli-Pops
  • Cranberries (Unsulphered and sweetened w/ cane juice)
  • Chopped Dates


  • Put these treats in glass jars or clear plastic containers where they can see them and be excited knowing that they made a good choice and that their are still treats in the house (not in the garbage!).
  • Make sure it’s their choice
  • Guide them in choosing better alternatives
  • Help them learn to read labels and point out the “why.”  This is a huge part of equipping them to be healthy, competent adults one day
  • Make it fun!  We had a blast on our Candy Swap Adventure!
  • Never shame or condemn your child into making a choice that you think is better. Figure out a way to ask questions and give choices that will prompt them into the right direction.
  • Save the larger items (fruit roll-ups) for big rewards
  • We don’t use things like fruit roll-ups or cookies in their every day diet. We tend to opt for the fresh fruit, this way the fruit roll-ups and cookies are a treat (not an every day staple that they EXPECT).  If you pull out all your “big guns” every day, it leaves you with nothing to use for special occasions, rewards, or treats.
  • Not many kids will say no to a chance to go pick out more candy!

Please feel free to post your comments below if you have thoughts, tips, or other yummy but healthier treats  you would add to this list!  We can all learn from others’ experiences so please share!


  • This was a great post…I’m emailing it to my sister, who tries greatly to provide a healthy food selection for her kids, but her husband…well, not so much. 🙂

    Elizabeth 28.05.2010
  • LOVE THIS!!! My kids would eat candy 24/7 if I let them…especially my 6 year old. I hide it and he will find it…LOL Great ideas for the snacks out so they can see them. My kids love the fruit roll-ups from costco and the yummy earth suckers. I am going to try this…thanks!!

    Lindsey 28.05.2010
  • oh i feel this pain… from Christmas, Valentines, Easter, Halloween…i’m sure i’m missing some…

    thanks for your thoughts & suggestions!!

    Rachel Brewer 28.05.2010
  • What great ideas! Drew and I don’t have kids yet, but in thinking about how we want to raise healthy kids in the future, this was definitely something I wasn’t sure how to address.

    Lori 28.05.2010
  • Love this! You are an amazing Mom, who is being used to better equip so many other moms!! Proud of you!! I am sure MJ and Eden were in heaven at the Whole Foods organic goodies section. 🙂

    Rebekah 28.05.2010
  • thank you for is a reminder and reassurance we are not the only ones trying to teach our kids to eat healthy and make better choices. It is hard when you are in a group to be the only one that is not eating junk. thanks for the great suggestions!

    jenn 28.05.2010
  • Thanks Oates family. This is a great and very usable idea. I will pass it along.

    Drew 28.05.2010
    • Thanks for all the thoughts and comments! I’d love to know how this works for you all with your kids and any other ideas you may have to add to this! So far so good with our kids! They just got 3 Blow-Pops in the mail as a gift. Without me saying anything, they immediately took them, threw them away and asked if they could now go get a “healthy” sucker. I think they got it! 🙂 Hope this sticks!

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! I smirked while reading this because I want to be the crazy woman throwing away all of the candy! I think these are fantastic ideas for the future (Will’s still only 19 months and doesn’t need any candy right now and Kieras only 2 weeks so yeah, she’s just on b-milk 😉 ). I want to print this and put it in my notebook for the future!

    BTW – those organic animal crackers are at Costco and I must admit, I’m slightly addicted… I find myself going to them instead of other things when I’m craving something sweet!

    Kelly 28.05.2010
  • SO thankful you shared this with me! The kids are really jumping on board and i can’t wait to see how we progress from here 🙂

    Sami Cone 29.05.2010
  • i like the treats idea but not a fan of throwing away candie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    angelina 01.06.2010
  • o wait i ate all of my candy so all i have to do is by healthy snacks now oh boyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    angelina 01.06.2010
  • Ooooh so smart! Love how you guys do this 🙂

    Jody Gray 05.06.2010
  • LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!! Not only will this be good for my kids but good for me as well! Thanks!

    felisha 22.02.2011
    • Yay girl! I’m glad it helps. Our kids LOVE this. We just made our trip to Whole Foods and stocked up. Eden walked in yesterday with a Dum Dum from school, marched straight to the trash, tossed it in, and said, “Bye, Bye bad candy!” and hopped up on the counter and got a “healthier” sucker, sweetened with fruit juice and NO artificial colors. This is a win-win because it’s helping their health, but it’s also teaching them to OWN their health and make good decisions. We don’t force it. There have been days I’ve given in and said yes to the bad candy that she really really wanted. I felt like it was good though b/c it helped her own it even more and see that we aren’t controlling her choices. It made her want to choose well all the more!

  • Those are some great suggestions of ‘healthier candy’ for our kids. I never thought of Adam and Eve – great parallel and one they will get! My son Oliver (4.5-yr-old) came home today with me from school where the teachers were handing out candy because it was the last day before Spring Break (any excuse will do, right?). He told his teachers (of his own volition) that sometimes candy is okay, but Pettits don’t eat candy. He says he will let his Mum and Dad give it to him. SO PROUD OF HIM! It’s tough when all the other kids are doing it. But he knows eating healthy will help him grow and stay strong. (This is the same 4-yr-old who “has to wear long sleeves to school because sometimes his big muscles intimidate the other kids.” But that’s his trade-off for eating healthy, right? Keep the faith, Jenni!

    Sandra 09.03.2012
  • Makes a whole lot of sense. Life is all about balance,and this “healthier candy” concept you’ve created teaches kids (and us adults) to balance. And on the occasion they go to a party and get a cupcake or icecream, they may choose to a)not eat or b)only eat a little. And if they do eat, we parents don’t have to be overly concerned, because we know that for many kids this would be in addition to all the “bad candy” they eat all week, for our kids, its just the one, because we’ve got “good” stuff at home…. that’s making choices and keeping balance. Good lessons to pass on.

    Kathy 20.06.2012
    • Great thoughts Kathy!! Thank you for sharing!! Yes, I agree. Balance is everything. Eliminating all the bad stuff at home let’s us eat it every now and then and not see the effects of it!!

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