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By Lisa Browdy
According to Nielsen Research, an estimated six million pounds of candy will be handed out today! This would not be such a horrible thing if kids didn't spend the rest of the year overdoing it on sweets and sodas. The fun and excitement of the holiday will be "spiked," as it were, by some sugar highs – followed by some cranky crashes. Not to mention the hit that their teeth, insulin and waistlines will have to work off.
If you are a concerned parent, this is probably not the day to start your anti-sugar campaign, but here are some ideas that can keep today and the rest of the week from turning into an unhealthy sugar orgy:
"Honesty is the best policy," says Jill Escher, who started a movement to call each October 30 "Sugar Addiction Awareness Day." ( www.endsugaraddiction.com) If you believe that refined sugar is a poison that kills us slowly, then tell them so."
Escher, who calls herself a former sugar addict, wrote a book called Goodbye Club Perma-Chub: a Sugar Addict's Guide to Easy Weight Loss. She suggests that we "de-normalize" the idea of handing out sugar on Halloween. "I'm not saying kids can't have a little treat now and then," she said on a podcast with host Connie Bennet on Sunday. "But what kid can possibly eat a whole bag?"
Since it's too late to stock up on boxes of raisins, water bottles, play tattoos or party favors for tonight's trick-or-treaters, let's think about ways we can minimize the candy-centered aspects of Halloween for our resident offspring:
1) Make sure that children have a healthy snack with some protein (an apple with peanut butter is a good choice) before going out, so they don't get tempted to eat on the go (you want to check over their candy before they ingest any for safety reasons anyway).
2) Have them eat a good dinner before they get any of their treats.
3) Do not let them take their candy to their rooms, but hold on to it and dole it out a few pieces at a time over the coming weeks.
4) Offer to trade the bulk of their candy for a gift card or a toy.
5) Put on some great music and have a dance time after the treats are eaten. This will help work off some calories and the case of the crazies that inevitably follow all the sweets and excitement.
6) Have the kids bring their treat bags to a dentist that participates in the "Operation Gratitude" program at www.halloweencandybuyback.com. They will give your child an incentive for turning in their candy, which will then be shipped to the troops serving overseas. One local participant not listed on the website is Novick Orthodontics, 7351 W. North Ave. in River Forest. They will be buying back candy on November 1 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, the organization that brought us Food Day, has a website with more candy-free Halloween ideas at www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/halloween_ideas.pdf. They wisely suggest working with kids on healthier eating habits all year long rather than making a battle royal over this particular holiday.
I remember last year reading about a block in River Forest that was known for handing out full-size candy bars on Halloween. Wouldn’t it be great to have a block that was known for handing out healthy treats instead? Who’s ready to take that on?
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