Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween candy.. trick or treat?

It's that time of year when parents are out shopping for Halloween candies and kids are getting excited to eat all of those Halloween treats.

But I have heard a lot of talk lately about people skipping the Halloween treats for healthier options or for non food items.

I get that we have a childhood obesity problem but I don't think skipping Halloween treats is going to solve the problem.   I think it should be used as a teachable moment in how to eat in moderation and to understand that these candies are treats and only for special occasions.

When I was a kid there weren't a lot of overweight kids.  I was thin until I became a teenager and probably gained weight more from lack of exercise than what I ate.

What was different when I was a kid was that a lot of the Halloween treats didn't have as many chemical stabilizers and trans fats to keep these things on the store shelves for months.   Most of the candies were high sugar but probably less added chemicals.   We also didn't drink gallons of carbonated drinks and drive through meals.   Our parents would cook family dinners and would only have desserts on special occasions like Birthdays or other Holiday events.   Halloween was always a special day where kids let loose and got all kinds of treats from people in their neighbourhoods.   We generally knew most of the houses we went to and our parents would toss out the apples for fear of tampering and any other treats that looked suspicious.   We were taught to make our treats last because we weren't going to get any more for a long time.  Most of the kids I knew didn't eat the whole thing all in one shot.  We picked out the stuff we didn't like and traded with our siblings or friends or just tossed it out.  I would only be left with the treats I loved after it was picked through.   I would have a couple of treats a day and would make it last about a week or two.

I believe that a kid can have a little candy if they are getting healthy meals provided the rest of the time. It's all about balance and moderation.  I think it's more important to teach the kids what they are eating and what's good and what's bad for them and have them learn how to control eating the bad things and choosing the good things.   This is a skill that kids will need for life.  

I learned this because my parents only addiction was cigarettes and chocolate and since cigarettes weren't appealing to me the chocolate addiction was something I inherited.  My parents would hide chocolate in the house so that we wouldn't eat it all.   But I think that made us want it even more.  My brother was a blood hound for chocolate and he could practically sniff out it's hiding spot.   It might have been better for them to just leave it in the open and make it not a forbidden item.  Case in point.... my parents had a small cabinet filled with liquor bottles for the parties they would have about once a year.  They never dipped into the bottles unless my mother was cooking something that needed alcohol or someone came over that they might offer a drink to.  It wasn't hidden and it wasn't something that was a big deal.  I never touched the alcohol and to this day I am not much of a drinker and only have liquor around for cooking and for parties.   Chocolate on the other hand is always not far away and I crave it consistently.

Maybe that is the solution to drug and alcohol problems.   Leave it out in the open and make it no big deal and maybe people wouldn't want it as much.   You always want what you can't have.

So my thought is let the kids have their Halloween Candy... maybe you can find healthier versions like dark chocolate covered almonds or something but let them eat candy and teach them that it's ok to eat but not to abuse.

We shouldn't punish kids and deprive them of things that made life fun for us when we were kids.  Halloween and other holidays are the stuff that provide life long memories.  That's what life is.

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