September was the Sugar Detox month, just in time to usher in the worst month to try to decrease sugar; October!
Not a store can be entered without seeing the barrage of Halloween candy in every store. Even if you want your children to eat healthy, the constant message imprinted on every kid in America is eat more and more candy.
Halloween was traditionally a mischief night. It was about tricks and devilish acts. Halloween precedes All-Saints day. In America the candy industry saw a huge way to market their product 100 fold but focusing on the treats. If you are a late Gen X parent, you and your offspring have been brought up entirely where sugar has been marketed as associated with fun and happiness and childhood. Many people say “they are just children”, they can “children eat whatever they want”, etc. etc.
The reality is that in a country where our food supply has evolved into everything quick, packaged and processed children can no longer eat what they want. Kids are becoming more overweight and having more health issues from ADHD to developing major diseases. These are a result of all this high sugar and processed foods. The data is mounting on those facts.
Prior to the 1980’s candy and sweets were an occasional treat. They were not mainstream. You might get a lollipop at the bank but you would never find a doctors office with a bowl of candy for kids. We now associate sick kids with needing happiness and comfort….ie: candy. I have heard doctors say they will not deny their sick patients candy because it makes them happy; its one shred of something good in going through what they are. Just think about that.
Its certainly what Hershey would like you to think. Happiness does not come from food. The food industry has linked them together so we will buy more products. Candy makes people happy in part because the candy industry wants us to make a psychological link to fun and happiness. The marketing is aimed at that goal. If that strategy was only once a year it would not be so bad. However, children are marketed to and given candy on nearly a daily basis; from teachers, coaches, barbers, friends moms, and every concession stand in America.
So we come to Halloween.
As I posted on my Facebook page, Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food doesn’t give out any candy. She got a backlash from parents.
I too get a lot of parents that make interesting comments to me all the time. Some know I am a health coach and some don’t. I am always amazed nonetheless.
There is a real group of parents who honestly worry about not being the “cool house” with the “best candy”. The event becomes more about what they want people to think of them rather than the candy itself. However, the perception is again that candy=being well liked. Now of course we all had that house as a kid where the person gave out that “nasty” Almond Joy that everyone traded away to some adult. Or better yet, the packaged popcorn ball that no one ever really ate. But you still went to that house. Then there was the house giving out the full sized candy bars. It becomes just as much about how much you got and how big of bars you got than actually getting stuff you’d like to eat. I personally do not recall cataloging the best and worst houses. I was more interested in just being with friends and having a good time. For me Halloween was about friends and fun. Isn’t that what it really should be about? Instead it is about Candy.
However, if you just can get past kids thinking you are lame and you don’t want to be the “Almond Joy House” I have a plan for you. If being the cool house is something you have to be, Challenge yourself! Come up with something really fun and different. I personally kind of liked the idea of giving out money. Take the amount of money you would spend on candy and get that amount from the bank in coins. Break out that penny jar. If you are in a neighborhood where everyone knows each other, make some homemade treats. Halloween doesn’t have to be sweet free. Something homemade with no chemicals and processed ingredients is not only different and fun but healthier too!
What do you do with all that candy your kids do bring home!
My strategy is to let them eat what they want that night. My kids sort it and trade it and pay “daddy tax” that night. After the evening is over, I package it all up in Ziploc bags. In previous years we have donated our candy. As the locals know there is a dentist that collects candy the day after Halloween. They give cash by the pound and then hope you will turn around to the next table and donate your money to the local children’s hospital. The candy then goes to the troops. Local elementary schools do this as well. There is the Halloween Fairy that leaves something in the place of the candy. I have not done the fairy route yet but I like the idea of leaving a book or something useful in its place.
So this year challenge yourself. Think out of the box ( or shall I say outside the candy bag).
Make Halloween about Fun not Food.