Halloween candy is typically processed full of dye, high fructose corn syrup and excessive amounts of sugar and other harmful preservatives. Halloween is the kickoff to holiday weight gain, avoid having the treats in the house and opt for a healthy alternative like the brand names listed below. These companies typically have Halloween candy available during the season.
- Newman’s Own chocolate- organic chocolate with no additives or high fructose corn syrup
- Annie’s Organic fruit snacks ( Vegan; gelatin free, fat free; and naturally gluten free “No additives or preservatives, Certified organic; made with real fruit juice, Four delicious, all natural flavors in every pouch: Berry Patch, Sunny Citrus, Tropical Treat, Summer Strawberry
- Pirate Booty (these gluten free cheese puffs are a great alternative to candy and come in individual servings perfect for handing out on Halloween)
- Planters nut and seed trail mix – rich in healthy fats, and reduced in sugar
- Earth Balls Fair trade milk chocolate – Great tasting fair trade chocolate balls that are wrapped in paper that looks like the earth.
- Pure Fun Fruit Rocks (These delicious hard candies are made with organic ingredients and real fruit juice, and come in unique flavors such as Goji Berry, Pomegranate and Green Apple.)
- Yummy Earth Organic Lolly Pops – (Yummy Earth lollipops are USDA certified-organic, contain no artificial colors or corn syrup and are available in 20 flavors such as Pomegranate Pucker, TooBerry Blueberry and Strawberry Smash.)
- Endangered Species Bug Bites – (These bite-size squares of organic milk chocolate come with insect trading card from Endangered Species Chocolate, which not only sells organic and Fair Trade treats, but also donates 10% of profits to wildlife conservation)
- Betty Lou’s Organic Golden Smackers. (Betty Lou’s makes super-satisfying nut butter balls, and their Golden Smackers- organic chocolate peanut butter patties)
- Equal Exchange Mini chocolates – If you’re expecting to give out a lot of candy this year, these organic chocolates could be the right choice. Made with high-quality ingredients from farmers’ cooperatives in South America.
Keep in mind just because these treats are healthier than the traditional treats they still need to be consumed in moderation. The bottom line is sugar is sugar and both children and adults should not consume excessive amounts of sugar at all, even the alternative healthy brands should still only be consumed in moderation.
There are strategies to overcome your children consuming excessive amounts of sugary treats. As a parent it is your duty to make sure your child gets proper nourishment, they are not directly in control of buying groceries, preparing meals or even packing their lunches. They may help out with these task but you are the one who dictates what goes into the fridge and pantry.
Take Control. Do not turn into the food police, but get control of your kitchen. If you have healthy choices and junk food in the house your kids are going to want to eat the junk. Keep only healthy snacks accessible and save junk food for special occasions like parties at school or when you are out to eat and in less control of the environment.
Educate your child. We cannot assume that our kids know that eating too much Halloween candy will increase their risk for developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes or obesity. They are kids, they want what taste good, period. Tell them that certain junk foods have harmful dyes, processed sugar and fat in them that will make them sick, rot their teeth, and cause them to perform poorly in sports. On the other side of the coin, play up the benefits of healthy foods. Talk about all of the important nutrients in healthy foods. Calcium from spinach will make them grow healthy bones and teeth, the fiber in the oatmeal will keep their heart strong and healthy, drinking water will keep their body energized so they can play hard and not get tired and grumpy and the healthy fats in this salmon will help their brain develop so they can make A’s on their test in class, etc..
Eat your fruits and vegetables and promote the healthy Halloween candy alternatives. Whatever you DO, NEVER BE A HYPOCRITE! Kids do not buy the, “Do as I say not as I do,” behavior. Getting your child to enjoy a healthy lifestyle starts with being a good example, as a parent or any role model in a child’s life. Anyone would get mad at a coach or instructor that told a child to lose weight but still would eat in front of/or pass out candy and sodas to the child, same goes for their parents. Be a good example, ditch your diet soda habit, empty your secret candy drawer, your children are watching your every move.
Focus on getting enough nutrients, not cutting foods out. No child wants to feel deprived especially from Halloween candy. If we get adequate protein, healthy fats, fiber and vitamins and minerals then the cravings for Halloween candy will be reduced. You will avoid the infamous seasonal sugar addiction. It’s the kids who are not getting a nutritious diet who crave sugar. Try to have a protein source, like eggs, Greek yogurt, poultry, beef, fish, etc., along with healthy fats like nuts, nut butters, avocados, seeds, hummus, etc. and some color from vegetables and some fruits at each meal. A balanced diet loaded with nutrients is a great way to offset junk food cravings especially throughout the holidays. Aim to have everyday at least 6 servings of fruit and vegetables, 25g of fiber, and at least half your body weight in grams of protein (so if you weigh 80 pounds you should have at least 40 grams of protein). Also, have one half of your body weight in ounces of water every day (so if you weigh 100 pounds you should have 50 ounces of water).
Moderation. When all else fails think moderation. If you have a favorite traditional Halloween candy that you like to have every year, that is okay, just don’t allow yourself or your family to eat an entire bag. Buy the candy at the last minute so it does not scream at you to indulge in it the days leading up to Halloween. Set a couple of pieces aside for you to have and then give the rest away to your trick-or-treaters. If you do not have many kids come to your house take the leftovers to work, to your child’s teachers, karate class, the troops, etc. People love candy, but they will gain weight from it and you do not have to be one of them.
Hide it. This is a trick for all of the treats throughout the entire holiday season. Freeze the Halloween candy, Christmas cookies, Thanksgiving pies in a bag or container you cannot see through and label it something like “cauliflower soup” or something else you know your family will not rip open. Then thaw a few pieces, cookies, slices etc. in moderate amounts so you will avoid gorging.
Avoid negative food connotations. Children and adults for that matter need to have a healthy relationship with all food, even if it is processed Halloween Candy. Calling a food “bad” or “evil” can seem like a silly thing to say but if said enough it can taint anyone’s relationship with food. Emotional eating is very dangerous and can lead to gorging, obesity, anorexia, bulimia, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. If your child feels like they are disappointing you by eating junk foods that are “bad” then they might develop a “closet eating” habit or binge when you are not around because they feel like they will never have access to junk foods again.
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Dr. Kantor’s greatly anticipated new children’s book, The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice, is now available. Be sure to order this highly reviewed book, filled with healthy living tips for the whole family. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.