The fun of Halloween is getting, not eating, the candy. | Ginger Perry~AP
Halloween is Friday, and so the onslaught of articles on how we shouldn’t let kids eat candy on the holiday has begun.
Then there are the articles that offer suggestions such as: hand out toothbrushes instead of candy. Yeah, way to get your house egged.
It kills me how hypocritical adults can be about Halloween. These are the same people who can’t imagine fall without their daily pumpkin drinks loaded with all sorts of sugar and sweeteners. (And don’t give me that excuse, “But it’s organic.” Sugar is sugar.) You know, pumpkin beverages to go with the office cupcakes. But the idea of their kids celebrating Halloween, what at one time was a holiday just for children? Oh, no, we gotta put the brakes on now.
Let the kids go trick or treating. Think back; what was the real fun of the holiday when you were a kid? It was getting into a costume you’d been thinking about for weeks. Once you were dressed up, you, your siblings and friends went out, bags in hand, usually just as the sun was setting. You traveled from house to house. The streets were full of other kids doing the same. Adults gave you something free, candy no less! It was the getting of the candy that was the thrill, not so much that it was the sweet stuff itself.
And for a day or two, maybe three, you’d eat the candy, and then it would sit on a shelf until your mother threw it out.
Fast forward to 2014, and here’s how I think Halloween should be treated. Let the kids have their fun. But tell them Halloween is going to be the start of a new way sugar is treated in your home. Yes, they can go out and enjoy the candy for the next couple days because it’s the holiday. But, from here on out, those will be the only times when everyone in the family, adults included, will be eating candy and other sweet treats. At holidays. TRUE special occasions. (Oh, and parents, when your co-worker brings in doughnuts because it’s Wednesday, that does not count as a special occasion).
Because that’s what we have to do with our over-sweetened society. We have got to rein it in, and that doesn’t just been sugar, it means sweeteners in all its forms. It also starts with adults. You think telling your child no candy and Halloween while you’re eating french toast covered in confectioner’s sugar gives them the message that sugar is to be avoided? Kids follow our actions, not our words.
The sweet stuff — as treats, foods and drinks — has to be removed from our homes. Even though he uses it to help people drop the pounds, I like “Extreme Weight Loss” co-host Chris Powell’s recommendation that on the one day you are going to indulge, you go out for your treat. That way you enjoy it and you’re done. Bring it into the house and all sorts of bad behavior begins.
For the kids, this also means you’re going to stop putting a dessert in their lunch. Unless it’s a piece of fruit. Oh, I know there will be howling. Ignore it. (Remember, you’re the parent.) To make this lifestyle change stick, come up with a day of the week when you and your kids will go out and enjoy whatever special sweet treat — candy, ice cream, cupcakes — your family likes the most. Don’t be surprised if after a while you or the kids don’t crave it as you all once did.
So let the kids have their Halloween. But next week, new behavior begins.