Halloween & Sugar: Learning Moderation, Savoring, Giving
Halloween is almost here, and with it comes the annual predicament of balancing fun with healthy living. We know the amount of sugar presented to kids at this holiday is absurd, and we know that excess sugar leads to tooth decay and a whole host of other issues (you can read about in my last article: Ten Ways Sugar is Hurting Your Kids.) Unfortunately, many of our American traditions involve copious amounts of sugar!
- Birthdays = Cake
- Easter = Chocolate Eggs & Jelly Beans
- Christmas = Cookies
- Independence Day = BBQ (full of sugar!) & Ice Cream
- Thanksgiving = Pumpkin Pie
- And of course, Halloween = Candy
However, I believe that traditions are important; they give kids a sense of safety and something to look forward to. We can’t get rid of Halloween, but it is one of the hardest traditions to separate from sugar. I don’t think the answer is to take away all the sugar, but teaching opportunities can abound for learning moderation, sharing/giving, and savoring.
Learning Moderation: Spacing out the candy stash for a specific amount of time can help parents keep within the 3-6 teaspoons of sugar a day recommended by the American Heart Association*. The typical U.S. child eats around 20 or more teaspoons a day, so getting your kids within the recommended amounts most likely means you will have to take sugar out of the rest of your kids meals and snacks. Think: no juice, no soda, no sugar snacks, no honey, no syrup those days. This might be hard, but it will teach not only moderation, but also trade-offs, which are a big part of life.
Savoring: Halloween can teach mindfulness! When most children were eating their candy as fast as they could, my sister and I always had a competition to see who could eat our candy the slowest. The goal was not to be the one left with no candy, while the other one was still savoring hers. If my sister had two skittles left, while mine were already gone, I would look on in jealousy as she continued to enjoy hers. Perhaps this is just another family oddity, but you can teach your kids to eat their candy in such a way as to fully experience the flavors and pleasures and to satisfy them with less quantity.
Giving/Sharing: Keeping only the candy your children really love, and giving the rest away, will reward them twofold: First, the brain enjoys things more when it is not overwhelmed by too many choices and when the so-so options are weeded out. (We actually get less enjoyment when our candy stashes are peppered with mediocre candies.)** Give away any candy that is not in your kids’ top 10 sweets, and they will be even happier with what is left. Second, giving candy away will also teach charity and sharing.
I probably ate way too much candy at Halloween when I was a kid, but I do remember my parents teaching me responsibility with candy as well. My sister and I would give or throw away whatever candy we didn’t like, space our candy out throughout the following week, and would always savor what we had, and we enjoyed Halloween even more because of these small efforts.
Candy Buy Back Programs
Need a home for these unwanted sweets? Many dentists offices have charity driven buy back programs that will trade kids for money or other prizes for their candy.
(You can also do a similar trade-in program just in your own home.)
Here is a list of Candy Buy Back Programs in my hometown of Omaha, NE.
~For a national list, try this website: http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/
17110 Lakeside Hills Plaza
Omaha, NE, 68130
November 6th from 3 – 7 pm
(Also, look for Premier’s Program at Rohwer Elementary School!)
18130 WRIGHT ST
OMAHA, NE, 68130
Nov. 1st-2nd and 6th-8th from 8 am -3 pm.
Corpuz Family Dentistry
5311 S. 138th Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68137
Nov 1st – 6th, Wed, Thur, Fri & Mon
17935 Welch Plaza #104
Omaha, NE, 68135
Nov 1st and 2nd from 8 – 5 pm at the Q St. location.
About the Author: Carly Cummings is the Director of the www.StopOurSugar.com Project and the 10 Day SOS Sugar Detox Challenge. She is a recovering sugar “addict” who at the same time has always loved being a leader in the health and fitness industry. Carly is the former president of Hyp-Yoga Inc. and the Director of the Omaha Yoga School. While she has always been into exercise and healthy eating, she recently discovered all that sugar was doing to slow her efforts down. After her second pregnancy she decided that the only way to have enough energy for 2 kids while breastfeeding and losing weight was to BEAT DOWN her sugar habit. And it worked! She lost 40 pounds by just cutting out the sugar. Sign-up for her free newsletter at www.stopoursugar.com.