Halloween is practically here! For the health-conscious, the thought of all that candy going into those trick or treat bags, then into kids hands, and ultimately their mouths is a bit “scary”!
Several studies have found that milk (lactose is a sugar) and other beverages are the two main sources of sugar in children, with candy being the third highest contributor. Nancy Appleton, PhD, wrote a light-hearted book entitled Lick The Sugar Habit. In it, she reports on the medical research concerning the effects of refined sugar on the body. Here are those specifically related to children:
- Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.
- Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline levels in children.
- Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
- Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
- Sugar can adversely affect school children’s grades and cause learning disorders.
- Sugar can worsen the symptoms of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- In juvenile rehabilitation camps, when children were put on a low sugar diet, there was a 44% drop in antisocial behavior.
Oh, and don’t forget about the cavities.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a party-pooper to keep Halloween healthy. How about considering some of these treats this year as an alternative to passing out candy:
- Temporary tattoos
- Silly Bandz
- Mini Play Dough packs
- Fancy erasers
- Pencil toppers
- Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
- Small novelty toys
- Bouncy balls
- Miniature magnifying glasses
- Glow Necklaces or bracelets
- Spider rings
- Plastic vampire teeth
- Tiny decks of cards
- Hot Chocolate packs (sugar free)
- Microwave Popcorn
The local Dollar Tree has all kinds of great non-candy treats. Another great treat is the Free Jr. Frosty coupons available from Wendy’s. You can get a book of 10 coupons for $1. Yes, the Frosty has sugar, but the Jr. size is so small the sugar equivalent is equal to about 2 of the Fun Size Snickers bars. Additionally, 90% of all treat book sales go to the Dave Thomas Foundation to fund grants to support Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruiters. Since the fundraiser began in 1992, it has generated millions of dollars for the Foundation, and all donations go to help out the communities in which the money was originally raised. With the Frosty coupon, the parent has control of when the child consumes the treat and can help keep a healthy balance.
Another cool thing to check out to limit kids candy consumption is the Halloween Candy Buy Back. This is a program generally sponsored by dentists where they “buy” back kids’ Halloween candy and send it to soldiers stationed overseas. Some dentists pay up to $1 per pound and others pay with goody bags that include prizes and coupons.
Here’s to a happy and Healthy Halloween for all! Be safe out there and look out for each other! And please post your favorite candy alternative below!