We all remember a dejected Charlie Brown looking down into his Trick or Treat bag and proclaiming “I got a rock!” But opting out of the candy free-for-all doesn’t have to be a letdown to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door this holiday. With a little creativity, it is easy to become a good role model, provide healthy alternatives to traditional candy, and make the costumed ghosts, goblins and witches leave happy. In fact, if your “treat” is cool enough, your house will become known as the house to go to. I know our house was that house once we started giving out glow-in-the-dark necklaces.
Halloween is a great holiday to get the whole family involved in making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. I know of one family that has fun by decorating clementine oranges with spooky, scary, and silly jack-o’-lantern faces. The kids and parents have a lot of laughs, and enjoy seeing each other’s creative side by making this a family project. And the bonus is that in a short time, their decorations become festive, healthful and yes, sweet, treats to hand out that evening.
Though popular culture encourages us to let our kids ingest mountains of sugary junk food on Halloween — and for days afterwards —the negative health effects of sugar and other sweeteners are well-documented. In addition to weight gain, studies have linked sugar consumption to lower intelligence, anxiety, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. In addition, repeated exposure to artificial sweets dulls our taste buds to the natural sweetness of healthful alternatives like berries and other fresh fruits. This perpetuates cravings for more sweets, and ultimately leads to diabetes and obesity.
My new book, Fast Food Genocide documents the real horrors of Halloween and our nation’s obsession with dangerous eating. There is no doubt about it: candy damages bodies and brains; and kills millions prematurely.
On this night of the year, let’s make sugar disappear! Instead of harming children, why not choose a fun, clever, entertaining or healthful treat for the princesses, monsters, and ghouls who knock on your door:
* Glow sticks, necklaces or bracelets – light them up when you hand them out so your night-time trick or treaters remain visible to cars.
* Bubbles – entertainment in a bottle!
* Mini Play Doh containers – let the littlest goblins pick their own colors.
* Balsa wood gliders, flying discs and paddle ball games.
* How about superballs, whistles or Halloween-themed book marks?
Let’s help each other out: How have you handled Halloween and other holidays that celebrate sugar, and harmful junk food at your home? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.