Over the past few years Canada has averaged around $400 million of candy and snack sales for Halloween. An article from Vicnews.com showed that nearly 4,000,000 Canadian children went trick-or-treating in 2016. That averages $100 of candy collected in one night. WOW!
If you’re a parent, this ought to be alarming as sugar has many hindering health effects on our kids (and us too).
Sugar is highly addictive. Sugar increases dopamine which leads to intense feelings of reward, in other words it feels good. When something feels good, we seek more of it, resulting in cravings and potential addiction.
Sugar also affects our mood as it messes with neurotransmitters like serotonin. When serotonin pathways are overactivated, their limited supplies become depleted, contributing to symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Sugar overload can also prevent a child’s taste buds from maturing. This means that in time kids won’t appreciate a variety of foods and nutrients, they will just want what their taste buds have been trained for, more sugar. Too much sugar causes natural flavours in fruits and vegetables to taste bland or bitter.
immunity & memory
Sugar also weakens their immune system, negatively impacts their memory, thus affecting their ability to learn.
High sugar consumption causes so many risk factors for our kids. This doesn’t mean we pull a Jimmy Kimmel and eat (or get rid of) all their candy. It does however mean approaching Halloween with specific strategies to help prevent candy crashes.
1. Feed them first! Before your kids go out trick-or-treating ensure they’ve had a healthy, balanced, protein enhanced meal.
2. Bring in the ‘Switch Witch’. We haven’t done this, however friends of ours have a ‘Switch Witch’ that comes in the middle of the night to switch out their kid’s candy for a special toy or gift they’ve been asking for. Their kids love it!
3. Recycle candy. Three years ago, we ran out of candy and said, “Girls do you have any goodies you don’t want that we can give out?” We got all kinds of treats to keep handing out. Though this was originally done out of necessity, we’ve continued each year. It helps to reduce their candy stash by about 15-20%. And saves on our costs too.
4. If needed, set limits. We ask our kids, “How much do you think is reasonable to have?” This helps them to set healthy limits and increases ownership over their choices.
5. Let them eat a treat or two with a healthy balanced meal so that the healthier nutrients help to counter-balance blood sugar levels.
6. Keep sweets out of sight (and out mind).
7. Throw out Halloween treats, a few or a handful at a time.
8. Bake healthy goodies, better yet do it together. Baking with your children is an incredible way to build memories and get ‘side by side’ time together.
9. Set candy aside for a birthday party. November is a big month for birthdays in our family, possibly yours as well. Setting aside candy to be shared at upcoming parties prevents you from buying more later. You can also use candy to decorate cupcakes or a gingerbread house.
10. Engage in activities they love. The more enjoyable things your children get to be a part of, the less they’ll seek enjoyment in treats. Go for a fall walk, play a board game, go swimming, play tag, built a fort. Be a kid with them, even if it’s only for 30min. Your soul will thank you!
they are worth it!
Leading your kids to live a healthy lifestyle is not easy. At some point you may find yourself digging into their candy saying, “Forget it, I don’t care right now!” (been there, done that, will probably do it again one day). However, on the other side of your persistence is a healthier, happier, more content child and it is worth it!
This isn’t about rules. It’s not about restriction. It’s about setting healthy boundaries and helping them choose wisely.
If you’d like to learn more about leading your kids well nutritionally, we’re here for you. We can work together through the hard stuff so that your children can live a healthier, happier life!
Committed to you!
Master Health Coach, EmpowerWays
Kristine Rustand is a Master Health Coach with EmpowerWays. Everything we do is about empowering you to live a healthier, happier life. You can follow EmpowerWays on Facebook and Instagram. If you want to know how Health Coaching can help you and your family live a healthier, happier life contact Kristine today. EmpowerWays@gmail.com