Healthy Halloween Options!
Written by James and Dahlia from Married to Health
As a kid, Halloween is a magical and extremely fun time. We were lucky enough to grow up in neighborhoods where we knew everyone on the block and we would all get together each year and go trick or treating. The goal was to each fill up an entire pillowcase full of candy. Fast forward to the 21 st century, where an obesity and diabetes epidemic is in full swing and it is no wonder why many parents are more aware of the dangers candy can have on young children. The good news is you can be a healthy and conscious parent while still allowing your children to have fun during the holidays. Below we will share some scenarios that you can adopt this Halloween and holiday season:
Scenario 1: Let Kids Be Kids
This scenario employs the rational that holidays come around once a year so let the kids enjoy it. As you can imagine there are HUGE “BUTs” to this rational. This could work out well if you keep the following in mind:
● Hidden added sugar is in almost everything, so make sure your children are not having this hidden sugar all week long in their seemingly nutritious foods.
● Besides holidays, there are birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, etc. We recommend added sugar at most once per week, so if you start to have these special occasions with special treats too often, it may be time to put on the brakes.
● Just because it is Halloween doesn’t mean they have to eat as much candy as possible in one night.
● Make sure kids eat a balanced, fiber rich meal before and after trick or treating.
Scenario 2: Go for High Quality Treats
Nowadays there are more and more organic and non-GMO candies, cakes, and cookies. You can find high quality sweet treats almost anywhere you go, especially if you shop at Mother’s Market. As a parent who is aware of this, you can simply switch out the lower quality high fructose corn syrup, artificial color filled candy with a nice organic cane sugar, beet colored candy and feel a bit better about your decision. This is great for the child, especially if they suffer from neurological disorders like hyperactivity or autism. Just be aware of the following:
● All of the tips from Scenario #1.
● Even organic added sugar can alter gut microbes, be addicting, alter brain chemistry, promote inflammation, diabetes, and heart disease.
● Organic added sugar will still put you and your child at risk for obesity.
● Organic added sugar can still cause behavior issues: ADHD, picky eating, excitotoxicity, etc.
Scenario 3: Do Not Waver from the Healthy Course
You are a very healthy and conscious parent. Maybe you are 100% plant based, organic, gluten free, pesticide free, etc. You exercise with your children regularly and avoid all processed foods. You goal this Halloween is to do naturally (whole fruit) sweetened treats and stay away from all junk food. There are tons of dessert recipes that use dates as the main sweetener, fruit leathers with fiber, etc. You can still make your own treats or buy them at Mother’s and celebrate the holiday. While this is an ideal situation from a health/nutrition perspective, growing up we saw Halloween as more of a social and fun activity. Keep in mind that:
● Trick or treating can actually be a great source of exercise.
● You do not have to feel pressured to provide unhealthy candy if you are intending to avoid it for your own family. Kids have enjoyed the Tangerine Jack-o-lanterns, Halloween erasers, pencils, stickers, festive water bottles, and other toys we have given away instead.
● Mother’s has a great selection of healthy treats: Lara Bars, Bearded Bros, Fruit, Fruit Leather, Hakuna Banana, and many more.
● Your child does not have to collect candy, but they can just participate with their friends in exploring the neighborhood.
● If your child does collect candy, neither you, nor they are obligated to eat it. It is perfectly fine to throw it all out, trade them candy for cash or prizes, or participate in a candy drop-off at your local Dental Office, where they often exchange candy for prizes.
● Explain to your children why you are avoiding candy. Chances are they may appreciate the time you took to explain and will try to understand.
● Check out these no added sugar desserts! Some have animal products so feel free to substitute for vegan ingredients or if you still eat some animal products once-in-a-while make sure they are organic.
No matter how you celebrate Halloween it is important to do so consciously. Realize that we live in a world where added sugar is everywhere so it is important to find a healthy balance that works for you and the future generations we will share this world with.
Married to Health