I had enjoyed Halloween especially when my daughter was younger (she is almost 15 now so Halloween is different for teens, you know) A few years ago, I made costumes for both of us, my daughter as Hershey Kiss (silver) and me as Hershey Hug (gold). That was super fun! Kiddos dress up in store-bought costumes, or in some cases, with the help of their parents, create their own, to go door-to-door, trick-or-treating for candy snacks.
Without spoiling your happy time, keep in mind the power you have as parents to regulate your little one sugar intake. With childhood obesity levels at an all-time high and juvenile diabetes a real concern, it is worth considering alternative options to share with your children and neighborhood trick-or-treaters that are not packed with GMO components, additives, preservatives, and dyes. I allowed my daughter 2 pieces on Halloween and my kid was content and happy. The rest just keep her happy to see them.
Often time you cannot control the outside influence but you sure can teach and influence your child in the positive directions. Parents typically do not deprive their youngsters of this sweet experience, but there are ways to keep it a healthier Halloween for your little ghouls and goblins, princesses and super heroes!
First of all, not all chocolate is bad. Dark chocolate has true health benefits when consumed in moderation. Although it does contain processed sugar, dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 75-80% or greater is packed with procyanidins, powerful flavonoids, that serve as beneficial antioxidants in the body.
Furthermore, according to a Georgetown University study, these procyanidins are capable of preventing the growth and regeneration of certain breast cancer cells, as well as inhibiting the spread of existing cancer cells. This is great news for chocolate lovers, and totally relevant in light of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Additionally, in conjunction with procyanidins, polyphenols in dark chocolate are capable of breaking down specific digestive enzymes that lower the levels of fatty acids in the blood, which can help with weight management efforts. Remember for adults, 100 gm per day is the limit.
Flavonoids in dark chocolate are more than antioxidants; they are advantageous for cardiovascular health, cognitive performance and sensitivity. Epicatechin in the sweet treat has been found to boost plasma oxidation, and the theobromine component strengthens and builds tooth enamel. Dark chocolate also contains vitamins and minerals that milk and white chocolate do not.
Of course, the stronger taste of dark chocolate is not always palatable for children like its milk and white chocolate cousins, but it is always the healthier option.
My second recommendation is to steer clear of gummies and fruit-flavored candy snacks, because those contain gelatins and dangerous dyes and preservatives that are by no means “natural.”
Let me reiterate a few scary facts: Gelatin is derived from animals in factory farms. Artificial flavors and food dyes are primarily petroleum-based and are believed to be linked to hyperactivity in children. To make matters worse, these ingredients are contaminated with carcinogens. Red #40 is so bad, in fact, that it comes with a warning label in Europe.
The preservative BHA is linked to cancer and is banned all over the world. Preservatives may increase the shelf-life of products, but they do not preserve human lives! Flavored gelatins, processed foods, GMO’s, and produce contaminated by herbicides and pesticides, should always be avoided at all costs!
As you enter the supermarket and are faced with boxes and bins containing bags upon bags of candy to share with your neighborhood trick-or-treaters, I suggest you check the labels and inspect ingredient lists before you toss them in your shopping cart.
Finally, I applaud parents who choose to hand out organic candies, honey sticks, pieces of fruit, or kid-popular stickers and glow sticks, in lieu of mass-produced and processed candy. It may be a bit more expensive, but in the long run, if we all work to change the mind-set of youngsters early in life, perhaps they will learn to make healthier dietary choices later in life. Do not think of those parents as party pooper though. We can stand for what we believe in and make our point. I do not condemn people who are in for the treat. It is a festive and creative day with many cheerful (or dreadful) faces coming to your door. Just keep your candies intake at proper amount. We all can have occasional imperfection to cheer your soul. On the lighter note, what’s up with dentists giving out candies at their office!
As always, carefully inspect your children’s Halloween haul before allowing them to dig in! Discard opened packages and anything that appears suspicious.
I want you and your family to have a fun and festive Halloween and live happy, healthy lives! I would love to meet you to assess your suitable match for future appointments and to discuss your current eating habits, about which I can apply viable suggestions of ways you can achieve optimal health through lifestyle and diet.
I am dedicated to providing you the best care possible, with an emphasis on patient empowerment and education. I always do my very best to help patients and their families integrate healthy, proactive, and whole-body approaches involving lifestyle and nutrition to achieve optimum health. 503.658.7715.