The doorbell rings as the streetlights come on. It keeps ringing and the dogs are barking. Who is on the other side of the door? Is it a princess, a super hero or a monster looking for sugar? As you rush to the door, you grab the bowl of treats. You reach for the door knob not realizing that what’s in the bowl could determine if there is a monster on the other side or a healthy Halloween.
Is your bowl full of processed candy that is always on sale this time of year? If it is, then you are feeding the monster. Candy has no nutritional value and many parents know that. This time of year, many parents let it slide and give their kids a free pass to eat as much candy as they want. That is not the pass to good health.
There is no health benefit to candy. It is loaded with artificial colors and sweeteners. Included are things like high fructose corn syrup, the food colorings and all of syrup alternatives that are disguised under different names but are not food. They taste really yummy but aren’t real. You are replacing nutritious foods your child could be eating with nutritionally deficient ones and they will have an impact on your child’s immune system.
Estimates are scary on how much calories are in the average haul of treats. Some estimate the calories at 4,800 with 3 cups of sugar and 1 ½ cups of fat. (1) That is a lot for a kid to eat!
Why is Sugar Bad?
Halloween falls at same time of year so kids eat all that candy and we wonder why they get sick. When you give your child sugary sweets, you are feeding the illness monster and you will see those monsters knocking on your door throughout the “flu season.”
The more sugar you have the more your immune system is going to have to deal with. Sugar compromises the immune system. It causes inflammation in our gut while disrupting the flora that is central to our immune system. 80% of our immune systems is in our gastrointestinal tracts. It’s no wonder more kids are sick the week after Halloween.
Kids are going to be more susceptible to not being able to fight the bug going around. That’s why kids have runny noses, colds fevers and flus the week after Halloween. They crushed their body with all this sugar they are not meant to be able to handle. That’s when the real Halloween monsters come.Fight Th Sugar Monsterand telling stories of ghouls and goblins. We associate all this fun with the candy-free -for-all. So how do we keep the fun and diminish the sugar monster? We have some tips for you to keep your children healthy and happy around Halloween.
Tips For Healthy Halloween
- Set limitations and expectations in advance before you go trick or treating. If you will swap out the candy for a different toy or treat, letting your children know in advance will make the swap easier.
- Add planning your route on to your Halloween list of things to do. Enjoy a fall walk and planning what route you will take will add more exercise and more fun to the Halloween anticipation.
- Be sure to eat a healthy meal before you head out the door. Plan for something easy to make and eat. You all will be in a rush to get out the door and you won’t want to get anything on your costumes. Having a healthy meal will squash the temptation to graze the candy bag and will mitigate the impact of any sugar that your kids do eat. This chicken strips recipe is prepped in advance and cooks up fast. Add some veggies and you have a great pre-Halloween meal.
- Prepare healthy alternatives at home. Check out this recipe for sugar cookies that can be made in fun Halloween shapes. Have this healthier treat waiting for them when they get home from trick or treating or to bring along for Halloween parties. It will also make for great memories if you bake them together.
- Don’t be the parent that drives your child from house to house. The walk is part of the fun! Outdoors and exercise can help build a healthy immune system.
- Set a good example in your home and offer healthier treat alternatives for the treaters. Nuts, dried fruit, fruit leather and fruit snacks are healthier options. Check the labels to be sure they aren’t artificially sweetened or colored. You will also want to grab organic.
- Some sweets can be good swaps for kids who are looking for super sweet options. Look for candy sweetened with xylitol.
- If you are worried fruits and nuts might get your house toilet papered consider a fun non-food alternative. Play dough, slap bracelets, fidget spinners or glow in the dark bracelets are some fun choices.
- Create new holiday traditions, and find the fun in the old traditions, that aren’t reliant on food. Enjoy Halloween crafts, fall festivals and other haunted activities in your area. Find ways to bring the Halloween spirit to the season. It’s not the food that makes the traditions memorable but the people!
- Have a healthy snack to put in the lunch box for the day after Halloween. Prepare some fruit dipped in cacao. Its healthier than caramel covered apples. Cacao is chocolate in the pure form before it loses all the nutrients along with adding sugar and dairy during processing. It’s also an easy treat to make together. If you let your children pick the fruit they will think it is even more exciting.
It’s not tricky to avoid feeding the monsters. It just takes planning and wise choices so you can make new traditions that lead to healthier outcomes for your family. Be a good role model for your children and check out our tips for moms to avoid their own sugar traps. Avoid sugar for a healthy Halloween and don’t feed the monsters!