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How can you turn Halloween into a fun-filled time for your children while keeping it not too frightening for you

halloween pumpkins

My kids always look forward to Halloween, even though they don't eat the candy (at least in front of me). They look forward to dressing up in costumes, being out with their friends, and staying up late on a school night. I, on the other hand, do not look forward to Halloween. I don't like the focus on promoting fear of ugly-looking creatures and giving toxic items to children. 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.

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. Here are some tips that have worked for us.

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. The best thing about these toys is that they make kids safer in the dark because cars can see them when they are walking in the road. Kids say, “Wow!” or “Cool!” when they see the glowing gifts, so I know they love them. Plus, my kids are proud to hand them out. Now that my kids are older, they always remind me when it’s time to place my order. 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. You also can try the Halloween treat recipes in the September 2006 Healthy Times Newsletter, or have some delicious Pop'ems and NEW Date-Nut Bars on hand from DrFuhrman.com.

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. They are too well informed now. Last Halloween, much to my surprise (I was brought up conventionally, so it’s amazing to watch Nutritarian children grow up) our children played with the candy. They opened the wrappers, and exclaimed how it didn’t look like food and then molded 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.

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