Sugar is one of the least healthy items a person can eat. We are surrounded by sugar all the time, however it gets worse for us and our children around the sugar seasons. The 4 sugar seasons are Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Birthdays. The first sugar season is upon us, Halloween. As Naturopathic Doctors, we often get asked how to decrease sugar intake for adults and children ad how to create a Healthy Halloween. Dr. Nowazek has 4 children, and has seen what sugar will do to their immune systems and energy if they get too much. You can read about the impact of sugar on the immune system here. In Dr. Nowazek’s household, they use the “Great Pumpkin” technique to help with sugar season one and a healthy halloween.
Here’s what Dr. Nowazek had to say about his Healthy Halloween strategy:
“We still go out door to door for Halloween and do our Trick or Treat racing around the neighborhood. Our kids end up with about 4 large pillowcases of candy. We have them dump it all out on the floor or dining table at the end of the night and let them each have 5 of anything they want, right there and then, get it over with.
Then we tell them that at night the Great Pumpkin will come and take all of their bad candy which is not good for them and leave them with the healthy snacks they can have. We tell them that the great pumpkin will take all of their candy back to the pumpkin patch and get rid of it for them. My children love the Charlie Brown great pumpkin TV special, so they want to watch it every year after we get back from getting the candy. This helps perpetuate the cycle. When the kids go to bed, we then throw out all of the candy they haven’t eaten in a place they won’t see it and replace it with healthy snacks.
The healthy snacks we replace it with are items that our kids don’t normally get a lot of. Juice boxes (specifically 5 alive in a can, my kids love those). Granola bars. Raisin boxes. Dried fruits like banana and apple chips. Small bags of healthy chips, baked, low salt. Fruit roll ups. There are many options available at any grocery store that you can use. We will also give them little toys, coloring books, puzzle books, pens and pencils, crayons. There is so much that can be done with this idea, it doesn’t have to be all about food.
Our children are now in the habit of writing letters to the great pumpkin every year asking for certain things. They will ask for 5 alive in a can, or a new puzzle book. It’s similar to Christmas and asking for gifts from Santa. They have fun with it, and we don’t go overboard with the commercialization of it, just focus on the reduction of sugar and keeping them healthy.”