There are things I love about Halloween. I love the feeling of Fall in the air, the costumes, and the spooky, fun aspect of it. But I do hate the excessive sugar consumption that goes hand in hand with the holiday. I hate the fact that Americans will spend $2.1 billion on Halloween candy this year. Really, people? We can’t think of anything better to spend our money on?
On what occasion would you allow your child to eat a pound of sugar? How about two pounds? Three?
I am certain that you would say “never!” and look at me like I am insane to even suggest that you would do such a thing.
But the average child consumes 3.4 pounds of sugar on Halloween. That equates to about 7000 calories, which is just gross.
Why do we take all holidays and turn them into excuses to stuff ourselves full of sugar?
The problem, however, goes beyond holidays. According to the American Heart Association, the average person eats about 22 teaspoons of added sugar each and every day. That is a lot- about 325 extra calories from sugar alone. The AHA recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar each day, which is still WAY higher than my recommendation of none. 🙂
Sugar is not a healthy food. It does nothing to contribute to your nutrition. This is nothing but indulgence.
We need to set an example of healthy eating and taking good care of our bodies for our children. There is no argument that sugar is not good for you. So there is no excuse for this excess, on Halloween or on any other day. Cut the sugar and recognize that everything you put in your mouth can bring you closer to optimal health or further from it.
Take a stand this Halloween.
Here are some strategies I have used in the past:
- Trade candy for a toy, money, or a special activity. This works well for most kids, and you can use this for yourself, too!
- Give out toys rather than candy. I search the internet for toys, erasers, bouncy balls, and bracelets that I can buy in bulk. You will be surprised at how excited kids get when they have a fun little toy to play with.
- Control the amount you allow your kids to keep. Allow for the pleasure of a few pieces of candy. Allow your kids to trick or treat and have fun, and let them enjoy a few pieces of candy but educate them. Teach them that there is never a reason to over-indulge and that the fun is in the doing, not the candy.
- Let them keep it all! If your kids (and you) can control themselves around the candy and not eat it all; if they can self-regulate and just have a few pieces and then lose interest, that would be awesome for you. But it is my experience that this is rare. Most people can eat sugar until it makes them ill. It not only messes with blood sugar regulation, but also affects the dopamine and opioid receptors in the brain. Bottom line: a gigantic bagful of candy is not good for anyone. Allowing your children to have unlimited access to that much junk food is just not good parenting.
What we put into our body determines the function of our body.
Part of the ongoing struggle with raising healthy kids is wondering if you are doing it right. Am I creating a situation of too much control? When my kids are away from me, will they make smart food choices? When I am not there to guide them, will they go nuts on all the junk food they can eat? If I say no all the time, will they resent me?
Everything you put into your mouth brings you closer to optimal health or closer to disease. While I am all for the occasional treat, the participation in the enjoyment of eating desserts, and the involvement in cultural events, the excess of Halloween does, in my opinion, call for the intervention of the health conscious parent.
Let your kids participate. Let them eat some candy. Focus on dressing up, gathering with friends and loved ones, and the beautiful transition from Fall to Winter.
Give me a call if you have any questions or need help standing your ground this Halloween or any time of year.
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I am so glad you addressed this topic! Every year I try to find someone with an apple tree so that I can give out apples. I hate the idea of buying all that unhealthy candy for kids.
Great idea! I saw somewhere a cute idea of drawing a jack-o-lantern face on Clemintine Cuties and thought that would be an awesome thing to pass out!