I canNOT believe Halloween is almost here! Is it seriously nearing the end of October? Didn't summer just begin?
I have had some discussions lately with my Bootcampers about Halloween so I thought I would share on here things I do to survive this holiday, as an (almost) Holistic Nutritionist.
First off, let me begin this by saying that my children are NOT deprived! Yes my kids know what chocolate tastes like. They have had chips and caramels and lollipops. With the exception of a few junk foods (like pop and twinkies!), they know what candy tastes like (and yes I have seriously had this questions). For them, it's just not the norm. It's something they have on occasion, such as when they go to the movies, birthday parties or events where candy is given out. If they are exposed to crap foods (can I call it that? It's my thing, you know what I'm referring to) either through myself or others, I will definitely limit the amount they consume. For example, they went trick or treating a couple weekends ago (yes already!) at our local zoo and actually collected quite a bit of candy. I allow them 1 piece per day, if they ask for it. I try not to do this in a way that becomes negative for them. I explain to them what sugar does to the body using terms they can understand:
- lets the germs attack their body so they could get sick (immune suppressing)
- will make them want more and more candy (addictive due to dopamine release in brain)
- they will have trouble controlling their actions and emotions (hyperactivity due to rush of blood sugar)
- may cause cavities if they eat too much
- their body might have a hard time pushing all the bad things out of their body, which can make them feeling really sick (taxes the liver)
- can end up making them really tired, making it hard to learn at school (spikes and drops in blood sugar and impaired cognitive functioning)
- can make them cranky (the drop in blood sugar)
A couple notes on this:
1. I don't throw this information at them all at once. How annoying would that be? Instead, I weave these bits of information through our daily life when opportunities arise for me to do so
2. I try not to speak of sugar as being "bad." Labeling foods as good or bad can later create feelings of guilt when consuming such foods, which may lead to disordered thinking and eating later on. I try to go with "everything in moderation." So I tell my kids it's ok to eat candy as long as it's small amounts so their bodies can still be strong and healthy
3. I am always aware of my own habits. How off-putting would it be to preach something while not following your own standards? My kids never see me eat candy with a boundary of them not being allowed. If they see me eating a lollipop, it's during a time they are allowed to do so too
A couple years ago we went through a really difficult time with my daughter who had been tested as intolerant to fructose. It isn't like an peanut allergy when all you need to do is avoid peanut and peanut products (I am not trying to downplay the severity of such an allergy and the measures parents must take in order to keep their children safe. My point is that with fructose, there isn't a clear line of what is acceptable and not).
Dairy may or may not be ok
Fruits may or may not be ok
Wheat may or may not be ok
And in every scenerio there is also quantity and frequency to consider. Maybe she can have wheat but only every third day, and only half a cup at a time. It is such a painstaking process to figure out your child's own needs and requirements. And symptoms are cumulative. Maybe eggs one day are okay but after eating them for 4 days in a row there is a reaction. It was awful to say the least. Like reading a novel in a foreign language, needing to translate every single word as you go. Between the food logs, screaming child in agony with stomach pain, crying because I cut out yet another food group, disappointment over missing birthday parties so she wouldn't be exposed to foods that would cause her to react....it sucked
But there was an upside. My daughter learned very quickly the relationship between food and health. With some observations and conversations with me, she knew that wheat gave her stomach aches. Dairy gave her diarrhea. And sugar caused both. While not always so clear cut, she came to a place of understanding and acceptance that amazed me. So now, when we talk about sugar and the effects it has on the body, my two oldest really get it on a level that's hard for other kids to understand, unless they have had to deal with (either first or second hand) the consequences of eating something not good for their own body.
On that long winded note, for Halloween I just cannot justify contributing to the ill health of children around me. With obesity at an all time high, an epidemic of ADD/ADHD in our schools.....no. I just can't hand out candy and crap to our children. It goes against everything I stand for. And no, I am not depriving anyone of anything. We have this misguided perception that food and junk foods are treats and are special for our children and should be valued. No. My children are valued in other ways and treated by things like outings, stories, movies...experiences.
So for Halloween I hand out other things:
- play doh (Costco has HUGE packages of them)
- glow sticks
- bouncy balls
- mini bottles of water
- clementines (try drawing a jack-o-lantern face on them)
So many options! And kids react so positively when they see something other than chocolate, chips or candy like every other house.
Yes I let my kids go trick or treating. I used to love it as a kid, and I would never deprive them of an experience. When they get home, they dump their candy on the floor and usually sort it all out. They can keep whatever they want, though I may limit the number, and the rest they put back in the bag. At night they put the bag outside their bedroom door and the Candy Fairy will come take the bag and leave them a toy, or something else that appeals to them (a book, jewelry, etc). I created my own poem this year to add a spin on things. Rather than imagining a fairy eating all their hard earned candy, the fairy is going to do something productive (and healthy!) with all those treats. I'll attach it if you'd like to use it as well. Or you can search it online for other varieties of poems.
With the extra candy, my husband typically brings it to his office where it disappears in minutes. I'm tempted to just throw it in the garbage though. Anyway....let's be honest, who would end up eating all that candy anyway? (yes I'm looking at YOU!)