happy pumpkin

It’s that time of year again when kids get to play dress up and head out in the neighbourhood with their treat bags. As a Nutritionist and a mom, I happen to have a few thoughts on the matter!

First of all, as a mom, there can be much debate as to whether or not to allow children to participate in an event that has dark roots. My husband and I have decided to let our children join in, with some guidelines in place. We skip the scary houses and costumes and focus on the fun. We enjoy the strong sense of community in the air and recognize it could be the last time everyone congregates outside until our first big snowstorm! Alternatively, parties held at churches, community centres or homes are also a great opportunity for some dress up fun.

Secondly, as a nutritionist, I struggle with the copious amounts of candy and junk food that enters our house in a matter of a few hours. I certainly don’t want to squash the party, but refined sugar, artificial colours and flavours and hydrogenated oils just aren’t good for us.

Here is the deal at our house – the kids can pick a few treats to enjoy the night of Halloween. For about a week, they get to keep their loot in its entirety and have 1-2 treats per day. After that time, I give them a smaller plastic sandwich bag. Now they have to prioritize and decide what is worthy enough to make it into the bag. I happen to think that prioritizing is a good life lesson and that some day they will credit their prioritizing skills to me! Whatever is left is shared among the adults, sent with family members into work or trashed. I do struggle with throwing away the candy but the reality is that I’m not going to compromise my families health or teeth just so I don’t have to feel bad. As a preventative tactic, we try not to get caught up in the excitement and over collect treats. We only use one bag per child and they have to carry it the whole way. The bag will eventually get too heavy, which will provides the perfect exit strategy to head home!

So, what kind of things does our family give away? We have found lots of great alternatives to candy over the years and have received plenty of positive feedback from both kids and adults. Last year’s glow sticks were a huge hit and were a fraction of the cost of buying candy! I spent ten dollars and had enough for our expected sixty children. Why not consider swapping the candy out for play dough, fancy pencils, erasers, note pads, crazy straws, stickers, bubbles, balls, trading cards, fancy hair elastics or maybe even a bottle of water. As a community, we should unite and support our next generation’s health. Halloween is a perfect time to do your part!

This article first appeared in the Elmira Independent, Friday October 24, 2014