Halloween is just days away and so is the annual haul of candy that my kids will bring home from their night of traipsing around the neighborhood. All that junk!
Our neighborhood is a Halloween magnet with people driving in from all around to trick-or-treat there. It’s a great time for costume-spotting, admiring Jack-o-Lanterns and Halloween decorations, and doing Halloween right, but the candy part of this tradition can be tiresome.
In the olden days, people offered homemade treats on Halloween like candied apples, sticky puffed rice balls, or homemade caramels or fudge; too bad we can’t advocate a return to that tradition because of modern safety concerns. Nowadays, my kids come home with a bag laden with high fructose corn syrup, “natural” and artificial flavors and petroleum-based food dyes and colors, and questionable additives like soy lecithin.
What’s a parent concerned with health to do?
At our house, we start by deleting everything with food dye and putting it into a separate bag to donate. Food dyes cause dizziness, nausea, and headaches in my sensitive son.
From what’s left, mostly chocolate bars of various sorts, he’s allowed to pick five to consume on Halloween night. The rest reside in a bowl on top of the fridge to be enjoyed one at a time as dessert after eating a complete dinner.
Even though this strategy doesn’t keep him completely safe from undesirable ingredients, it recognizes that sugary treats eaten on an empty stomach will spike glucose levels more significantly that if eaten on a stomach full of wholesome foods. By requiring dinner before treats, we hope to mitigate the impact on his body while ensuring that he doesn’t substitute candy for real food and compromise his nutrition.
I’m not saying that our approach is perfect, but it’s the best we’ve figured out. Let me know below if you have different strategies at your house!