Sunday, 23 October 2016

Halloween Sugar Overload

Halloween is a well loved holiday for kids and the one time of the year they can wear that well loved costume out in public without a second glance. Although, let's be honest, my daughter has rocked a ladybug costume to Zehr's in the middle of the summer without a care. However, as an ND, this is probably my least favourite holiday from a health perspective. Don't get me wrong my kids participate in the costumes, the trick-or-treating and yes, the candy but the amount of sugar that often comes with Halloween is mind boggling. Let's be real, no one needs a suitcase full of candy, especially kids. So here are a few tips to minimize the sugar intake and some ideas for treats that are not candy.

Minimizing the Sugar Intake

In our house, we have adopted the Candy Fairy. The magical fairy who visits our house the night of Halloween, collects (most) of their candy and leaves them a present. We trick-or-treat only on our street so we don't collect a tonne of candy to begin with. When we get home, I go through all the candy for safety but also to weed out the candy that is a for sure no go (think artificially coloured lumps of sugar like Nerds). Then our kids get to pick a few pieces they want to have from the allowed candy, usually we do 5-6 pieces. Their candy is theirs- they can have it whenever they want. If they want to eat it all at once go for it. For breakfast? Sure. Then the rest of the candy gets put in a bag and left for the Candy Fairy. The Candy Fairy will leave a small toy in exchange for the candy- a Lego set, a night light, craft kit, etc. This has been a HUGE hit in our house, my kids are more pumped for their toy than they are for the candy by leaps and bounds, and they still get all the fun and enjoyment of dressing up and trick-or-treating. I should note, my kids are 5 and 2, so they are young enough to believe in the fairy and to love toys. Older kids, obviously won't be as receptive.

I have also heard some other ideas like allowing kids to eat their candy as they please for the following day or two and then the rest is given away. Another idea from a fellow ND is allowing their kids to have their candy but having them measure out the amount of sugar they get in each piece so they start understanding nutrition- this is a great idea for the older kids.

Minimizing the Sugar Output

It's not just trick-or-treating where our kids are inundated with candy- school parties are a staple these days. Here are a few candy free ideas to send to school with your kids:

  • Mini Craft Kits: Michael's has a great selection of craft kits, and at 60% off right now! I grabbed this little monster kit for about $5 and it's enough to make 18 monsters. Just divide the pieces into little bags for a DIY craft. Of course, you can also assemble all the monsters with your kids and hand out the pre-made monsters too. There were more kits of witches and Frankensteins, stickers, etc.
  • Check out your dollar store: Dollarama has an awesome selection of little trinkets that can be handed out instead of candy 
    • Halloween themed pencils- add a small bag of pretzels to the end to make witches brooms
    • Erasers
    • Straws
    • Stickers
    • Rings, Necklaces, Bracelets
    • Mini wooden figures to be coloured in

  • Glow Sticks: Is it just me, or do kids not go nuts for glow sticks? Dollarama also sells packs of 5 glow sticks for just over a dollar. These are also great for kids to use/wear on Halloween night while trick-or-treating.
  • Play-doh Packs: Homemade play doh is a cheap and easy option for a school Halloween treat. Make it more exciting by adding craft pieces like toothpicks, pipe cleaners, feathers, googley eyes or stickers to the play-doh for kids to make their own creation. You can use a basic play dough recipe or a salt dough recipe that can baked and hardened.
Healthier Treat Options

When sending treats to school or for a Halloween party try some of these healthier options. (Most of these are Pinterest inspired)

  • Banana Ghosts- Bananas cut in half with chocolate chips for eyes and a mouth.
  • Orange Pumpkins- Peeled mini oranges with mini piece of celery
From One Little Project
  • Apple Chips
  • Popcorn- Use Halloween themed baggies to pack it
  • Apple Pops- see below
  • Apple Sauce Packets- add some decorations to make them into monsters or witches

For the Trick-or-Treaters

Many of the above ideas work well for trick-or-treaters as well but some other options could be:
  • Raisin Boxes
  • Fruit Bars- These are still pretty much all sugar but at least made just from fruit with no added sugar or artificial flavours or colours.
  • Juice Boxes- Same as above, pretty much just sugar but none of the additives as long as it's 100% fruit juice.
At the end of the day, indulging in candy and sweets for a day isn't the end of the world. But for me the real issue is the sheer volume of junk food kids get trick-or-treating that has become the normal Halloween night. I don't want my kids to miss out on the fun of Halloween- the costumes, the trick-or-treating, the parties, etc. but I want to avoid the gorge of high fructose corn syrup, GMOs, artificial dyes, artificial flavours, preservatives, etc that often comes along with it all. So, what will I be sending to my daughter's school Halloween party? Apple Pops!

Apple Pops

Directions: Core the apple and slice horizontally into rings. To prevent from browning rub with a slice of lemon. Make a small cut into the side of the apple ring to help the popsicle stick insert easier. Melt chocolate chips and drizzle on top. Add a bit of coconut oil to the chocolate to make it a bit thinner (if desired). Decorate with unsweetened coconut, raisins, dried fruit, crushed nuts (if not going to a nut free facility), mini chocolate chips, etc. Pack into individual treat bags and enjoy! 
-Dr. Jessica ND

~The Coach House Team~

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