Halloween, which is around the corner, is the scariest day of the year. That’s because it’s become an approved National Sugar Overload Day.
For Halloween, 157 million well-meaning Americans (or nine out of 10 shoppers) will fork over a whopping $ 2.1 billion to buy candy corn and lots of chocolate “treats.” (Indeed, 72 percent of all money spent this Halloween will be on sugary chocolate.)
Every Halloween, millions of mindless, health-unconscious adults — parents and non-parents alike — take an ultra-permissive, Ditch the-Diet approach to Spooky Snacking.
Many of you will experience collective Sugar Ignorance.
You simply “forget” everything you’ve ever heard of or learned about the dangers of sugar overloading, including its connection (confirmed by many stellar researchers) to obesity, heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and more.
Instead, parents will likely lovingly, good-naturedly tell their innocent, sugar-craving kids, “Sure, you can have some candy [on Halloween and for days afterwards], but brush your teeth afterwards.”
Not only that, but you and your friendly, well-intentioned neighbors will kindly give out candies galore to all those cute, young, costumed trick-or-treaters.
I’m not blaming you for being among the candy pushers every Halloween. You’re a product of our sugar-obsessed environment.
But this year, I invite you to take these seven simple steps before you take your children trick-or-treating.
- Bring your kids with you to the drug store, supermarket or discount warehouse while you buy Halloween candy. Make sure you have a large magnifying glass with you.
- Then, before spending a dime, play a Find-the-Sugars game with your children. Read aloud the ingredients on food labels of candies you’re thinking of buying. You may even want to take pictures of ingredient lists on your phone. By the way, make sure that one of the items you look at closely is the traditional Halloween favorite, candy corn. You’ll be shocked to see what’s in those cute little triangular sugary kernels.
- Before you buy candies, choose those with the least amount of high fructose corn syrup, sugar or other nutrient-deprived sweeteners. If you can find small snacks with protein and fat, that would be ideal, but it may be since three million people are allergic to peanuts and treenuts.
- When arriving home, Get Spooked Together. Learn about the dangers of Sugar Overloading, especially on high fructose corn syrup. To begin, I urge you to look at my colleague Nancy Appleton’s amazing list of 141 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health. If you have time, go deeper with my first book, Sugar Shock!: How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life– and How You Can Get Back on Track; the late William Dufty’s Sugar Blues; or Dr. Robert Lustig’s Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease.
- Then invite your kids to create their own list of Top 5 Ways Sugar Can Mess You Up. Reward your child with a non-sugary “treat” like a colored pencil, sticker or extra hugs.
- Before you head out trick-or-treating, encourage your children to create a short routine, acting out her or his chosen costumed character. The American Dental Association and PopCap Games even found that “89 percent of kids surveyed say they would still like” Halloween if “it was less about candy and more about other types of fun.” (Admittedly, the survey also found that “93% would prefer to receive a video game instead of candy while trick-or-treating.”
- Finally, before your kids ring neighbors’ doorbells to trick-or-treat, feed them well. Give them a well-balanced meal (ample protein, quality fats and some veggies). That will make them a little less likely to trick their bodies by pigging out an all the sweet, dangerous “treats.”
May you and your family have a very Happy, Healthy Halloween.