by Jeff Clemetson, Editor
It is far more dangerous to your child’s health than Fourth of July fireworks. It is also poses a far greater threat than the choking hazards of small Christmas toys. I am, of coarse, talking about Halloween candy.
Halloween is by far the most unhealthy holiday we celebrate. The bags of processed sugars, chemical dyes and flavorings and GMO-laden corn syrup which our children gorge themselves on for weeks after the big Trick-or-Treating event leads to many health problems that can have lasting effects throughout their lives.
In a 2007 study on the effects of sugar in the body, doctors at Princeton University found that sugar, especially the kind of processed sugars found in Halloween candy, can be every bit as addictive as hardcore drugs such as cocaine or even heroin. Sugar can cause a person to binge, have unwanted cravings, go through withdrawal and build tolerance to its effects. And more importantly, this can happen very quickly. So when your child comes heaving that giant pillow case of “goodies” home after Trick-or-Treating, he or she is really bringing home a stash of toxins that will leave him or her wanting more the minute it dries up.
Sugar addiction, besides leading to obesity and diabetes later in life, can also have many adverse effects on a child’s mental and emotional well being. Addiction cravings lead to behavior problems as any parent who pays attention to the sugar rushes and crashes their child experiences as a toddler can attest to. As children grow older these crashes can seem like they are getting less severe, but in fact they can be even more profound and cause more damage. According Julia Ross, author of “The Mood Cure,” sugar addiction is a leading cause of many psychological problems in teens and adults, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and insomnia. Your four-year-old’s small tantrums when the Tootsie Roll wears off can lead to a lifetime of antidepressants and amphetamine pills to treat the effects of something that started as a simple sugar addiction.
So what should parents do to stop or curb their child’s candy intake around Halloween? According to hardliners like Ross, the best solution would be to make sure your child doesn’t eat any candy at all. To nutritionists, processed sugars are deadly toxins that have no business being anywhere near a young child. Unfortunately, societal pressures and norms make it extremely difficult to tell children they have to be the oddball at school that doesn’t get to have any Halloween candy. But there are some things you can do to teach your kids about the dangers of too much sugar and persuade them not to get be a junk food junkie.
Talk to your kids about what is in candy
One of the best ways to teach your children about nutrition is to be open and honest with them by teaching them what they aren’t taught in schools. This tactic has worked well for many vegetarian parents who have had to explain why their family doesn’t eat meat and others do and it can work for processed sugars as well. Tell your children that sugar is like a poison and read the ingredients on candy to them. Tell them how corn syrup is made and how the toxins used to grow corn damage the planet. You’d be surprised how many children act on their conscience.
Although not everyone can afford to do this, the simple act of buying you child’s Halloween candy off them can let them still enjoy Trick-or-Treating with their friends without the stigma of ending up with nothing after. Let your child know that you don’t want him or her to have the candy but that you’re going to get him or her that toy they’ve been eyeing or help them save up for whatever they want to buy. Also, getting coins from the bank and giving money to the tikes at your door is also a good way to stay festive without compromising your own beliefs about sugar addiction.
Be strict and lay down rules
If you find you just don’t have the heart to keep your kids away from the joys of Halloween candy and Trick-or-Treating, the next best thing is to be sure to limit the amount and kinds of candy they consume afterwards. Take out all or some of the candies that are pure processed sugars and contain trans fats. Chocolate treats at least have some nutritional value, whereas candy corn has none. Tell your child they will get one piece per day and that is all. The best time to give them the candy is right after school and a few hours before dinner. This will avoid problems at school and problems before bed.
Replace with other treats
Not all sweets are equal. There are some chocolate companies than make organic chocolate that contain real sugar and zero additives. There are also all-natural fruit sweets on the market. Seek out and purchase these treats to give out on Halloween and buy enough to trade out your child’s junk candy at the end of the night. Just remember to apply the same rules listed above.