Treating Kids to a Healthier Halloween
Every year as October approaches, many parents are concerned whether or not their children should participate in trick-or-treating. As their children contemplate which costume they wish to wear, mothers struggle with how to guide their children through this gruesome "junk-food binging holiday." Dr. Joel Fuhrman's wife, Lisa, offers several ways parents can promote healthier choices in her article How Can you Turn Halloween Into a Fun-Filled Time for Your Children While Keeping it not too Frightening for You.
Even though her children looked forward to dressing up in costumes and staying up late on Halloween, Lisa did not. "I don't like the focus on promoting fear of ugly-looking creatures and giving toxic items to children" Lisa said. "I don't call the candy 'treats' because that gives children the wrong message. Think about it, calling something a 'treat' encourages your children to look forward to receiving the 'treat'. Do you really want to encourage your children to look forward to eating something that could be as harmful as cigarettes? With our growing obesity epidemic, the increase in diabetes and strokes in children, and the scientific link between junk food and depression, decreased intellect, criminal behavior, dementia, and cancer, it is time mothers took a stand against the traditional Halloween junk food-fest."
Lisa continues by saying, "The sad fact is that even normally well-behaved children can start acting crazy after consuming all the highly-sugared, chemicalized junk they get. And the disrupting behavior can last for as long as a month afterward. Yet, I'm not a person who believes in letting eating choices turn my home into a war zone. I believe in providing an education in healthful eating—and setting a good example! I keep unhealthful foods out of the house, and trust my kids to use their best judgment. Thankfully, we have figured out how to make Halloween a happy time for all of us, without joining the candy craze."
Lisa offers ways to make it through the holiday a little easier:
1. "Hand out inexpensive toys instead of candy. By setting this good example, perhaps a neighbor will pick up on the idea. Even if nobody follows your lead, you will feel good about your decision. Toys are perhaps a little more expensive than candy, but not much, and they definitely send a great message to both the kids and the parents. My children help choose what they think is cool. In recent years, we have been giving out glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets. Other toys that we have purchased include blow up balloon balls, glow-in-the-dark animals, and glow-in-the-dark balls."
2. "Make your family's favorite dinner on Halloween night, including their favorite desserts. There are great healthy fall menu ideas in the Member Center recipe guide. With full stomachs, your kids will be less tempted to eat the junk they receive."
3. "When the children come home, if they are adamant about wanting to eat the candy, set a limit on how many candies they are allowed to eat. I suggest you allow them two pieces of candy, which they can pick out—and then discard the rest. In the past, we let our children pick one or two candies to eat, but in the more recent years they don't even want any of it."
4. "Try to get your kids to choose not to eat the candy by making another option more tantalizing. For instance, give them money or a toy in exchange for their bag of candy."
5. "Some people find it easiest to throw out all the candy after the children go to sleep. Little ones probably won't even remember it once it's gone, and getting rid of it eliminates temptation for the adults in the house. However, it is better to do this as a family and not secretively so the children understand the reason that it should be destroyed. It would be no different if the neighbors were being neighborly serving cigarettes or addictive drugs. Some socially accepted and popular customs are simply ignorant and dangerous. Dietary ignorance is the number one cause of death in America and everyone needs to know it."
6. "Life is full of compromises—and this day will pass! I believe that with a little advance planning you can ensure that your children will have a fun time. Plus they will not be tempted to hide or sneak candy. I am certain you will be happier knowing that they will be eating a lot less candy this year than they did last year."
For more information regarding children's diets, click on the following links:
Joel Fuhrman MD Links
Preview the "Why We Do What We Do?" Trailer
Controlling Cravings: Have you ever asked yourself "Why did I eat that?" Get science-based answers, now! Gain freedom from addictions. Understand underlying causes. Make lasting changes more easily than ever. Strengthen your ability to choose healthy foods through empowerment from Dr. Carney's Starch-Smart® System. Let's boost your 'biochemical willpower' for good. Help is here, from Linda Carney, MD, for all who struggle with bad habits, food fixations, and cravings.