Halloween Loot Beware.

Sour!As we go back and forth in our house about the whole issue of sugar, healthy habits & moderation and the fact that there is too much unhealthy food out there, I have to confess right off we have been living the extremes.

Don’t hate me, but the past few years we have done the let them gorge themselves Halloween night.  And then live the battle, with the “can I have some candy” woes dozens of times a day for weeks afterward.  That approach is pretty much ongoing hell for parents, with strung-out crazy kids right after the event.  And the constant requests are enough to make me want to dump the bags in the trash immediately!

But I’m afraid this year we swung the other direction, pronouncing on Halloween night, that they would be allowed five, count them, 1-2-3-4-5 candies that night and two each day thereafter.

Of course, one of our children declared that we had “ruined Halloween.”  And then, secretly ate half the bag one day when I was unawares.  This person, who shall go unnamed, apparently writhed in guilt for a few hours before stomach or conscious or both caused a confession at dinner.  When I said we need to have her (I mean this person’s) bag of candy “There will be no giving back of my candy, because …it is gone…”  Ha Ha, we were not amused.

But we had to face the fact that our swift pendulum swing into such strict moderation had created another kind  of monster: a lieing and cheating one.

And so I began to hunt for some more reasonable approach and found the following ideas, that seem practical, and healthy and although they still require a parents administration, they make sense and so I pass them on to you.

(adapted from those at www.mealsmatter.org, a Web site supported by the California Dairy Council)

Teach moderation. Overly restrictive rules around candy and other fun foods can backfire and make those foods even more desirable to kids. (Kids hiding or sneaking food behind your back is one clue. we found.) Show children that sweets and dessert can be included in moderate amounts (when you say so) as part of a healthy diet.

Spread it out. Allow kids a few pieces of trick-or-treat candy for dessert after lunch or dinner. Or include a piece or two with more healthful snacks, such as string cheese, vegetables with dip, trail mix, yogurt or a glass of milk.

Be a good role model. Junior may not give a boo for self restraint if he sees Mom or Dad finish off a bag of chips in one sitting.

Show balance. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthful diet plans that meet all our nutritional recommendations still have room for some “discretionary calories” — additional foods with fat and sugar. For most of us, though, that’s only about an extra 150 to 200 calories per day. (Emphasis mine) That may be a reasonable daily limit for Halloween candy.

Finally, registered dietitian and child nutrition expert Ellyn Satter has this to say about Halloween treats for kids: ”

Your child needs to learn to manage sweets and to keep them in proportion to the other food he eats. The key is to relegate candy to meal and snack times. Maintain the structure of meals and sit-down snacks, with parents retaining their leadership role in choosing the rest of the food that goes on the table. With that kind of structure and foundation, candy won’t spoil a child’s diet or make him too fat.”

That holds for us grown-ups, too. Happy post-Halloween!

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California.


Originally uploaded by M e l o d y

I sure hope your days are full of fun with kids. If you don’t have kids, I’m sure you’ll enjoy all those little tyke’s comin’ round tomorrow night.  Halloween is simply a fun time for children and a bit of a hassle for parents, in my opinion.  Back in the day (listen to me I sound old!) we used to make up our costumes.  Where’s the fun, really, in buying a costume?  And yet, most every year we run out of time or just can’t think how to make a Darth Vader costume and so we’re off to the store for a costume costing anywhere in the range of $19.99 (without the light saber) to $59.99 which I refuse to pay.  Somehow it’s lost its charm for me with store bought e v e r y t h i n g.

We carved pumpkins yesterday which was fun.  The boys drew a design and I carved.  But Emma would not let me touch hers.  I had to let her learn the hard way, with a small cut on her hand to show for it.  Sometimes it is hard to let them grow up.

I’m still picking the strands and seeds up off the floor and have not sorted out the seeds from flesh yet.  Does anyone have a good recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds.  I have such good memories of that as a child.

But I am not looking forward to implementing a limit on candy!  And I am more and more concerned about the amount of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in our diet today.  I have noticed it makes us crazy and sick.

If you’re more than just curious about this, I’d encourage you to read this disturbing article titled The Murky World of High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Here’s a sampling…I’ve highlighted some of the more disturbing results of rats & the scary stuff, HFCS.

Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose. When sugar is given to rats in high amounts, the rats develop multiple health problems, especially when the rats were deficient in certain nutrients, such as copper. The researchers wanted to know whether it was the fructose or the glucose moiety that was causing the problems. So they repeated their studies with two groups of rats, one given high amounts of glucose and one given high amounts of fructose. The glucose group was unaffected but the fructose group had disastrous results. The male rats did not reach adulthood. They had anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy–that means that their hearts enlarged until they exploded. They also had delayed testicular development. Dr. Field explains that fructose in combination with copper deficiency in the growing animal interferes with collagen production. (Copper deficiency, by the way, is widespread in America.) In a nutshell, the little bodies of the rats just fell apart. The females were not so affected, but they were unable to produce live young.

A lot more research needs to be done, but this is scary stuff people.