As a mother, I want to give the best to my children to help them grow up healthy. As a naturopathic doctor, I’ve also studied all the components to living a healthy lifestyle. Around the upcoming holiday season, starting with Halloween, I become a very conflicted person because I want my kids to have as much fun around these holidays as I did when I was young.
I am hyperaware of the fact that childhood obesity and diabetes are on the rise in this country. With more than one third of children between the ages of 6 to 19 being diagnosed as overweight or obese, handing out sugary treats on Halloween night seems like aiding and abetting in a crime.
So what are health-conscious parents supposed to do?
I initially Google searched “Healthy Halloween Treats”, and two types of articles came up. The first type of site was all about how to cook healthy Halloween treats. Now, like most parents, if my children were given anything that was homemade for Halloween, I’d immediately throw it away – so, unless I was throwing a Halloween party where all my guests know me, those sites were no help whatsoever. The second type of site was lists of healthy snack options, which included things like this: boxes of raisins, assorted dried fruit pieces, apples, apple sauce, beef jerky, trail mix, single-serve packets of low-fat microwave popcorn… all the stuff that sets you up as the next house to be “egg’d” or “toilet-paper’d” on a mischievous night.
Within this second type of site were often recommendations for non-junk food types of treats: money in the form of pennies, nickels and dimes, which just makes your trick-or-treat bag heavy and then you can’t buy anything with the 34 cents you managed to grab, coupons, crayons, colored pencils or makers, whistles, used books, and my favorite of them all… toothbrushes. What!?!? Toothbrushes!?!? If you are not a dentist, you are NOT allowed to give those out on Halloween night. I never participated in egging a house, but I would highly considerate it if I was ever given a toothbrush by someone.
So what do I do?
Why not just recognize Halloween is merely one night a year. If you make every day about eating well with your kids and teach them that Halloween night is merely an exception and not the rule, then this annual spurge will probably not hurt them – if anything, it’ll mostly hurt us, the parents, as we’re the ones that end up having to deal with overly tired, hyped-up-on-sugar children at bedtime.
If you would like to give out healthier treats this year, here are a couple of ideas:
- Halloween Chocolate Pumpkins from Chocolate Decadence: I bought my kids’ Easter bunnies from this store last year and they were delicious! They are vegan, gluten-free and all of their nut-containing products are manufactured on equipment separate from those products that do not contain nuts as to reduce cross-contamination, which is great for anyone concerned about children with allergies or sensitivities. They are shipped out of California; so make sure you order them at least a week in advance before your area celebrates Halloween.
- Yum Earth Organics: Sold everywhere. My sister recently recommended their lollipops to me as “emotional bomb diffusers for children”. Great for long car trips. Not only was she correct about their ability to pacify angry children who want to be running around but surprisingly, they were also delicious despite their fully organic ingredients such as organic black carrots and currants. With less than 25 calories/lollipop and free of artificial dyes and common allergens, these are a great treat for kids.
Post-Halloween Game Plan
Wake up on the 31st, have a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner. While your kids are coming down from their sugar high, have them drink water to help them stay hydrated, not juice or milk, brush their teeth well to reduce their risk of cavities, and then start them off right with a healthy breakfast.