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Another year, another October 31st – that’s right, it’s almost Halloween again. The candy’s been on sale since mid-July (gotta love early marketing). So far you’ve been able to stay away from it (hopefully), but in a few days the little ghosts, goblins, Justin Bieber’s and Honey Boo Boo’s will soon be knocking at your door requesting treats. Now, we all know that candy isn’t a health food by any stretch of the imagination. Consider this for a minute – people are outraged that some farmers are feeding their cattle the sweet stuff and yet we hand it out and feed it to our kids (and ourselves) without thinking twice. Um, is it just me or is there something terribly wrong with that?? Okay, but back to the point (I need to work on this focusing thing…), we all know that your house is going to get TP’ed or egged if you hand out pennies or pencils again this year, and that’s just so not cool. There are lots of non-candy trick-or-treat options – bouncy balls, raisins, stickers, temporary tattoos, etc., but for most people that just doesn’t register as an option – so off to Costco to buy the Economy Pack of M&M’s, Snickers, Kit Kat’s, and Milky Way’s all the while knowing things are going to end badly… (Think – ELASTIC WAISTBAND).
A new trend that seems to be quite popular is the concept of ‘healthy candy’ (yeah, that one’s running for oxymoron of the year and is right up there with ‘political strategy’…). I’m here to tell you right now – ‘healthy candy’ is on the same lines as the ‘paleo cookie’. Yes, things in the package may appear healthier than they really are… You’ve got the 100% Fruit Snacks (FYI: fruit does not disguise itself as an ‘Angry Bird’ or a Disney Princess.), sugar free, organic, low fat (yeah, I know), unjunked, fortified, and natural. Folks, these ain’t your standard Skittles here – these bad boys have 100% of everything you need AND don’t need… Regardless of if you hand out a ‘souped up’ version of Sweet Tarts or the standard Jolly Rancher, the overall story plays out the same, a treat is a treat.
Another ‘tricky’ tactic that can lead to trouble in a big way is the ‘snack’ size or ‘fun’ size phenomenon. It usually plays out like this – The bowl is full of candy and you’re ready for the little trick-or-treaters. While waiting for the doorbell to ring, you tell yourself, “I’ll just have one of these little Reese’s.” That’s not a bad thought, one small treat is totally acceptable, unfortunately since the treats are ‘fun’ size it seems easier to justify two (or six) instead of stopping at just one. This happens with the kids too. Think about it. If you buy a regular sized Snickers bar you’re looking at 270 calories, 14 grams of fat (and we’re not talking the good kind here), 35 grams of carbohydrate and 29 grams of sugar (that’s roughly 7 tsps). Now let’s say you have the ‘fun’ size and justify eating 4 or 5 of them (let’s be real here folks, they’re small and we all know that over the course of the evening it’s going to happen…), now you’re facing 320-400 calories, 16-20 grams of funky fat, 42-53 grams of carbs, and 35-42 grams of sugar (that’s between 9-11 tsps). The damage adds up fairly quickly and if you get the ‘assorted bag’ or help the kids sample their loot you may not have 5 of the same thing, but mindlessly munching 5 (or more) treats in total, is no stretch of the imagination.
This year, don’t be tricked by the treats. Here are some ideas to help keep this Halloween from becoming a ‘sugar induced nightmare’.
Having Trick-or-Treaters stop at your house?
- Give out ‘healthy’ or non-food treats to avoid the temptation of having a bowl of treats in the house. Pencils, stickers, crayons, temporary tattoos, bouncy balls, etc., all make great options!
- Choose to give out candy that you don’t really like – if you’re a chocolate lover give non-chocolate treats. This will help you avoid the lure of the candy bowl.
- Alternately, choose to ‘not be home’ or don’t answer the door and avoid the scene all together.
Um, yeah, but I’ve got kids…
If Halloween is going to happen regardless of your wishes there are still ways to minimize the damage.
- Arrange a ‘Healthy Halloween’ party for your little goblins. Bob for apples, paint or carve pumpkins, do face painting, and offer scary, but good for you treats.
- Cauliflower brains.
- Hard boiled eggs, grapes, or olives – eyeballs.
- Carrot fingers.
- Raisin bugs.
- Chocolate covered bacon snakes.
- Spaghetti squash guts.
- Use your imagination to create a ‘tasting lab’.
- Get together with friends and neighbors – agree to give out non-candy treats. Map out Trick-or-Treat stops to these places and avoid a sack full of sugar.
- If you do end up with a bunch of creepy candy encourage your child to ‘sell it’ back to you or an area dentist office for money or prizes more lucrative than licorice and lollipops!
Seriously, no candy on Halloween??
I know it just doesn’t seem fair. If your kids (or you) insist that it’s not Halloween without candy, go ahead and indulge in a piece or two. Choose wisely and really enjoy only your very favorites. Don’t buy bags and have it in the house for the entire month. When the holiday is over, clean it out! This Halloween doesn’t have to result in a ‘candy coma’– just be tricky with your treats!