Halloween is upon us!
I love trick-or-treating for getting dressed up, walking the neighbourhood, running into friends, and the pure excitement on my kids' faces. It's the large bags of candy coming home that can sometimes cause challenges.
As Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, expert in long-term weight management at the Bariatric Medical Institute teaches, Halloween isn't the problem. It's the other 364 days in the year where candy, sugar, junk food and juice is the norm in many social activities, school fundraisers and events, and in our homes where we use it as a reward, entertainment and a sign of our love. He has some great insight in this article on ways to challenge and change thinking around this.
So what do we do for Halloween?
- Support the immune system so the excess sugar and excitement doesn't lead to sickness. Focus on good sleep, healthy/hearty meals (especially right before trick or treating), thorough hand washing, and nutritional supplements to stay healthy
- Consider giving out non-candy items. We've done bouncy balls, playdough, swim passes, glow sticks, fancy pencils, animal erasers, and bubbles. There are lots of good ideas online!
- Encourage mindful eating. Talk about sugar and how too much makes us feel. While I don't encourage calorie counting in kids, it's helpful for adults to remember how much sugar and how many calories are actually in a lot of these candies. 4g is one teaspoon of sugar, many candies have at least 2 teaspoons of sugar and at least 70 calories.
- Let your kids enjoy some of their favourite candies, then discuss donating the rest or trading for money, an excursion, or a gift. Some families have a magical 'Switch Witch' who comes and leaves a toy in exchange for candy. Candy is addictive and kids get obsessed over it which can lead to large power struggles. Coming up with a solution to get some of it out the door quickly can make a big difference for everyone's mental well-being!
- Make healthier snacks like these laraballs. They are still a treat, but they have more protein and healthy fats and don't have the added sugar, preservative and food dye that candies do.
- Stay well hydrated and brush those teeth well!
- Focus on the fun and community rather than the candy.
Stay safe and have a great night!