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Halloween: Handing Out “Treats” Is “Tricky”—6 Tips To a Healthier Holiday

Here’s an article I wrote to help all of you. Feel free to distribute it, but please include the entire document, with the links to this Sugar Shock Blog.

Halloween: Handing Out “Treats” Is “Tricky”—6 Tips To a Healthier Holiday

By Connie Bennett, C.H.H.C.

Halloween is a spooky time and not because of goblins, ghosts or ghouls. Oct. 31 is downright frightening because it is a nationally accepted Sugar Overload Day.

Around Halloween, just about everyone “forgets” the truly scary facts: Kids have been growing more and more obese, even developing type 2 diabetes—conditions that researchers attribute to such unhealthy activities as over-consuming sweets and refined carbs and lack of exercise.

Despite the dangers to our children’s  health, every Halloween, it’s accepted—even encouraged—to pass out gobs of sugar-filled candies that could harm the health of our neighbors’ kids.

But every time you give candies to youngsters who come knocking on your door to playfully trick-or-treat, you’re tricking them, not treating them.

Indeed, the average child easily wolfs down about 20 to 40 teaspoons of sugar and more than 500 calories on that one night alone. Then, for days or weeks afterwards, the typical kid is still pigging out on leftover candies.

Research at Harvard, Yale and other institutions have discovered that eating fewer sweets and skipping the soda and other sugary drinks could help children and adults alike lose weight and reduce their risks of getting type 2 diabetes.

This Halloween, I invite you to quit encouraging sugar gorging and instead to begin to take some steps to make Halloween more healthy. Here are 6 tips to create a healthier holiday.

1.     Give raisins, nuts, cheese and seeds on Halloween. In other words, come up with some non- sugary options. For instance, you could pass out little packets of cheese, fruit leather (with no sugar), almonds, pistachios or shelled sunflower seeds. (Make sure to tell the trick or treaters not to eat what you give out if they have particular allergies.)

2.     Offer wrapped dark chocolate pieces. Try giving youngsters tiny pieces of less-sugar-filled dark chocolate rather than sugar-rich milk chocolate. Research shows that dark chocolate has beneficial antioxidant properties and it usually contains less sugar than the light chocolate counterparts.

3.     Hand out little water bottles. By offering water, you’ll be helping the young trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood stay hydrated.

4.     Feed your own kids well first. Before your kids cavort around the neighborhood on Halloween, make sure to give them a healthy meal of ample protein (such as a piece of free-range chicken) and quality carbs (like a salad, cooked veggies such as broccoli, a sweet potato with olive oil drizzled on top, a small portion of brown rice). Powering up with protein, quality carbs and superior fats will make your kids less inclined to eat too many candies.

5.     Pass out non-edible treats and toys. Bring healthy fun to Halloween by giving trick or treaters party favors, which you can find at drug stores and 99 cent stores. Children love getting toys, according to Marlene B. Schwartz, Ph.D., deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University. In fact, Dr. Schwartz headed up a study, which found that half of 3- to 14-year-old trick-or-treaters preferred non-sugary favors over candies. Here are some ideas of non-sugary treats to pass out on Halloween:

  • Rubber worms, spiders or other animal figures
  • Creepy fingers
  • Engine whistles and kazoos
  • Plastic key chains
  • Baseball cards
  • Halloween-themed stickers
  • Orange-and-black-colored pens, pencils or chalk
  • Animal-shaped erasers
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Non-Halloween-themed party favors such as hair clips, hair bands, scrunchies, plastic bracelets and rings
  • Spin tops

6.  Watch out for high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. If you’re not ready yet to break away from the Halloween candy-giving tradition, then avoid passing out candies with lots of sugar, high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup. The easiest way to steer clear of these sweeteners is to make sure that they’re not the first five ingredients listed on food labels. (To find out how much teaspoons each piece of candy contains, just divide the number of grams by 4.)

Halloween can be a wonderful, festive celebration for you and your kids. So why not do your part this year to show your children that they can have lots of fun and excitement without so much emphasis on unhealthy candy?

Connie Bennett, C.H.H.C. is the author of SUGAR SHOCK! (Berkley Books). She is a “Sugar Liberator,” certified health counselor, life coach, writer, frequent TV and radio show guest (“CBS News Sunday Morning,” “Oprah & Friends Radio,” “The Howard Stern Show,” etc.) and speaker. In 1998, Connie quit sugar and refined carbs on doctor’s orders, and her horrible headaches, crippling fatigue and brain fog vanished, as did 41 other ailments.” Connie, who now laughingly dubs herself an “Ex-Sugar Shrew!,” has helped thousands of sugar addicts break free from the depressing, debilitating aftershocks of overloading on “culprit carbs.” She hosts the weekly Gab With The Gurus Radio Show (www.GabWithTheGurus.com); runs the Sugar Shock! Blog (www.SugarShockBlog.com); and offers Break Free With Connie group and private coaching (www.BreakFreeWithConnie.com) Connie is an experienced journalist and columnist, who has been widely published (The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, TV Guide, eDiets.com, SheKnows.com, etc.) To learn if you’ve been brainwashed to become a sugar addict, take the SUGAR SHOCK! Quiz at www.SugarShockBlog.com.

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2 thoughts on “Halloween: Handing Out “Treats” Is “Tricky”—6 Tips To a Healthier Holiday

  1. We gave out the small Halloween bags of pretzels from Walmart! The kids loved them and moms thought it was better than candy. The bag says it’s only 50 calories. I was not tempted to break my 31 days of NO SUGAR/REFINED CARBS for these pretzels. We didn’t have as many kids as I expected, so I am glad I don’t have leftover candy around! Thanks to you, Connie, I feel great!

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