With Halloween coming, we are faced with the horror, yes horror, of processed trick-or-treat candy. With ingredients like TBHQ (a form of Butane), L-Cysteine (made from duck feathers and/or human hair), artificial colors, Genetically Modified sugar and even Lead (see article), in the piles of treats they bring home, it’s incredibly challenging to keep our kids healthy around this holiday. So what do we do? I for one, am not willing to be “That Mom” who won’t let her child trick-or-treat with their friends. And I also won’t be the mom to yank the bucket from them right after trick-or-treating. So what is a parent to do?
A little disclosure before I continue. I do not subscribe to the philosophy of All-or-Nothing, nor do my children follow a Celery & Kale diet. We are a family who do our best to live healthy in an incredibly challenging environment. We look for creative ways to avoid chemicals in our food yet live amongst society. That being said, these are my tips for a healthier Halloween:
1) Make an Agreement with our Children - Before the festivities of Trick-or-Treating begin, I make an agreement with my boys. They know this is not a free-for-all. After trick-or-treating is over, they know they will be able to enjoy the fun of sorting and trading candy with each other. But our agreement is this: they can each choose a couple pieces of candy at the end of the night. These can be any candy of their choosing. But after they choose, I get to go through and separate out the candy that contains my red flag ingredients.
2) Halloween is October 31st – Not November 1, 2, 3, 4…. - Trick-or-treating does indeed perform a trick…on us. Halloween is one night, yet the act of trick-or-treating by default forces us into celebrating for weeks after by way of candy from the bucket. But how do we limit the length of our kids celebration? First, I offer my kids an Early Buy-Back Program, meaning I will buy their candy from them if they are willing to sell it on November 1st…no later. On the occasions they don’t accept the Buy Back program, then we set a limit at our house. Halloween candy lives at our house for a very short amount of time. There will not be a stash still in existence come December. Each day the kids can choose a piece or two to enjoy from the candy that doesn’t contain butane (TBHQ) or hair (L-Cysteine). After that, the candy goes away. There are several ways to do this gracefully. Many organizations accept candy donations to send off to the troops and other groups. Our dentist even offers a “buy back” program for Halloween Candy – $1.00 per pound. (For more Candy Buy-Back programs in Los Angeles see Red Tricycle Los Angeles)
3) Fuel Up Before Heading Out – A healthy meal before the debauchery of Halloween night is helpful. If our kids are full of nutritious food, they are less likely to gorge on peanut butter cups and skittles. But with all the excitement, dinner should be easy. Some suggestions for nutritious and EASY Halloween dinners are: Chili & Cornbread, Soups and Salad, Make your own Pizza night, ANYTHING in the slow cooker (stews, soups, chilis, roasts, etc.), build-your-own grilled sandwich bar, or easy quesadillas. There are so many easy and healthy dinners to fuel up hungry trick-or-treaters.
Those are just a few tips from me to you. What are some ways you handle Halloween at your house? Share any of your ideas below. We can all use new and inspired ways to get through this sugar-driven holiday with our families.
Until next week…
© 2011, kimgerber. All rights reserved.