Knowing that there is virtually no sugar in my house, parents often ask me what I do with my kids at Hallowe’en. I confess to lying to my kids for the first couple of years. I told them that Hallowe’en was a holiday where people paraded up and down the street in costume and visited their neighbours. They were completely satisfied with my explanation. That is, until the other kids at school told them about the candy. Since then, we do go out trick or treating though we also employ several strategies for handling the vast amounts of high fructose corn syrup pouring into our house.
- Strengthen the immune system in preparation for the sugar rush to come. Use similar strategies that you would to prevent colds and flus. You can also add in extra support through the use of immunomodulating herbs or homeopathy, under the supervision of your naturopathic doctor.
- Avoid the temptation to start the sugar binge early by only buying candy a few days beforehand.
- Consider giving out healthier treats and treasures: mini dark chocolate bars, honey sticks, dried veggie chips, pretzels, fruit strips, stickers, spinning tops, playdough, polished rocks, seashells, or temporary tattoos. Check out Green Halloween for more ideas.
- Eat a meal with lots of high quality protein and vegetables for dinner before heading out. This will create a buffer for the sugar. Meals high in carbohydrates will only help your child’s blood sugar to spike even more.
- Sort treats and separate out the worst offenders: primarily hard candies, powdered sugars, and chewy candies, basically anything with lots of artificial colouring, additives, and high fructose corn syrup. The least offensive treats tend to be the potato chips and chocolate bars.
- Decisions about the quantity and frequency of treat consumption are best solidified upon beforehand. With older kids, it is best to get them involved in the decision making process. No matter what you decide to do, remember that large amounts of sugar consumption in a short period of time is less damaging to the immune system than smaller amounts of sugar spread out over a longer period of time. Some options include:
- Let them eat as much as they want for 3 days, and then no more.
- Negotiate a trade of a pre-determined portion of the candy stash for a special outing, gift, or money.
- Invoke the powers of the “Switch Witch” who comes in the middle of the night, takes kids’ candy and replaces it with an awesome toy.
- Set aside a certain amount of candy for decorating gingerbread houses later in the year.
Regardless of what strategy you use, step up oral hygiene and immune supportive therapies post-candy binge. Remember, you can be healthy and have lots of fun too!