Halloween is one of the most anticipated holiday for kids. It has come and gone and now we are left with pounds of candy. Kids are obsessed. Parents are obsessed. Some of us are excited by the treats and other are horrified by the pounds of sugar brought into our houses. How do we keep the kids from devouring endless numbers of Kitkats and Reese’s Peanut-butter Cups? How do we balance the sugar explosion with parental common sense? We can’t just throw it away because that means we are disposing of ……. Happiness…Garbage…Hard Earned Loot…Chemicals…Money…Delicious Food Coloring…A Kid’s Right to Happiness…Pounds of Sugar Good for No one…..
10 REAL LIFE WAYS TO TAME THE CANDY MONSTERS WE CREATED THIS HALLOWEEN
1 – DON’T LET THEM LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT BREAKFAST
Make sure kids have a breakfast containing proteins like eggs, uncured bacon, nitrite free sausage, whole fat greek yogurt or peanut butter. Add fruit and whole grain toast to complete the meal. Sugar cereal is not a good option. Cereal will leave them hungry and craving more sugar within 1.5hrs of getting to school. A great breakfast with + protein + fruit/veggie + complex carbs will decrease the likelihood for searching out the candy.
3 – DO NOT SEND CANDY AS A SNACK TO SCHOOL
2 – KEEP THE LUNCH SIMPLE
Pack a whole wheat sandwich with nitrite free turkey or salami, cheese, lettuce, condiment, fruit or veggie and water. Thermos of soup and side of grapes. Nitrite free turkey roll up with cheese and red peppers. Add water. A candy treat this week will be Ok. A “fun size” candy bar added to a simple yet complete lunch will lead to less of a sugar rush. The Sugar in the candy will be balanced by the fiber/protein/fat in the lunch and will lead to less sugar spike, less insulin spike = better digestion. But don’t have juice, granola bars, chips, fruit gummies, fruit roll ups, crackers in the lunch as extras. These extras are added sugar that shouldn’t be in a healthy lunch anyway, and especially if there is Halloween candy in the lunch. If the healthy part of the lunch comes back, then no candy the next day. This week is a great opportunity to demonstrate to kids how we balance healthy eating with junk food.
3 – DO NOT SEND CANDY AS A SNACK TO SCHOOL
Make sure the snack is in the Fruit or Veggie family: dried apple slices, grapes, frozen blue berries, Or Protein Family: cheese sticks, nuts if allowed, Or Complex Carbohydrate Family: whole wheat crackers, popcorn. Gold fish do not count because they lack fiber and just turn to sugar after they get eaten. Candy at snack time = sugar rush, followed by sugar crash = bad mood, talking out of turn, not focusing, falling out of chairs, acting like a clown, not finishing school work, not paying attention, and a very unhappy and frustrated teacher.
4 – HAVE FRUITS OR VEGGIES ON THE COUNTER WHEN KIDS GET HOME FROM SCHOOL
Their starving selves will fill up on natural sugar before asking for the bad stuff. Generally, if they see it, they will eat it. I assure you they will not ask for the healthy stuff, even if it’s washed and cleaned and in clear containers in the fridge. No, not even the teens.
5 – KEEP A HIGH PROTEIN SNACK ON COUNTER AS THEY WALK IN THE DOOR
Items such as pistachios, almonds, walnuts, steamed edamame, roasted shelled edamame, cheese and whole wheat crakes, whole fat greek yogurt, rolled up nitrite free cold cuts, apple slices with nut butter will fill them up on long lasting nutrition and curb their need for those Reese’s Pieces. If they are dying for a piece of candy, well, then no big deal since they won’t have room in their bellies for that much candy, AND the sugar from the candy will be balanced with fiber/protein/fat for better absorption with less of a sugar rush.
6 – SET EXPECTATIONS TODAY FOR HOW LONG CANDY IS ALLOWED IN THE HOUSE.
In our house, 1 week is the rule. I am tempted, they are tempted, so we compromised on the ONE week rule. This does not mean gorging daily for one week. We treat our bodies with respect. We feed our bodies with good nutrition but we will indulge in the coveted candy for 1 week. There is no need to keep candy in the house any longer. It just sets everyone up for whining and complaining, not to mentioned the sugar rush side effects. Let us remember that the cold and flu season is upon us, and the more sugar we feed our bodies, the less immune response we will have to all those viruses and bacteria present in schools. This means more colds, sore throats, night time coughs, congestion, and headaches. Just to name a few symptoms associated with sugar overload.
7 – IF YOU ALLOW CANDY AFTER DINNER, SET THE EXPECTATION ON THE AMOUNT ALLOWED NOW.
No whining, no bargaining, no complaining allowed. If they complain about your rule, then No Candy. Make sure that they eat a meal with protein, veggies, and complex carbs. Mac and Cheese and Frozen Chicken Nuggets are not the correct answer. They need chicken, fish, beans, pork, etc. Expected serving size is 1Tablespoon per year of age of each, protein, veggies, complex carb such as whole grain rice. No dinner, no candy. This is another great opportunity to discuss how we eat for health, not for fun.
8 – KEEP THEM ACTIVE AFTER SCHOOL.
No sitting around watching TV, playing video games, and thinking about candy. Make sure they play outside and have plenty to do to keep them burning off the Weekend Halloween Sugar Overload. Playdates are great to keep them distracted. Going to a park after homework is done can do the trick. Set a deal such as 30min of outdoor play = 15min of electronics. No outdoor play, no electronics. Set up a scavenger hunt – such as find 10 yellow leaves, 10 green leaves, 10 red leaves, 20 acorns, 5 sticks, 7 rocks, etc. Once they get the loot, they can have 15min of screen time. The idea is to get them outside moving.
9 – FIND A DENTIST WHO BUYS BACK CANDY TO SEND TO TROOPS
Our orthodontist, Dr. Valeriano, is buying candy today from 8A-12P, at $1 per pound to send to the troops. My kids, along with the neighbors, separated out the candy and collectively decided how much to donate. We left them to their own devices and we were amazed at how much they elected to donate. This turned out to be a great opportunity to discuss donating for those helping out country. A lesson in selflessness in the midst of Candy Hoarding.
10 – MAKE SURE THEY GET 8-9 HRS OF GOOD SLEEP
When we sleep, our brain suppress the Hunger Hormone – Gherlin – so we are less likely to crave sugar. Furthermore, when we sleep we make more of the Hunger Stopping Hormone – Leptin – which tells the body when we are full, thus preventing endless eating of candy. So no electronics, including TV and phones 1-2hrs before bed. LED lights from electronics prevent kids/teeens from falling asleep easily and disrupt sleep all night long. Set bedtimes the same every night. Keep the amount of after dinner candy to 1 or 2 “fun size” pieces and no more. The sugar and chocolate in the candy will cause disrupted sleep patterns.