Not because of ghosts, goblins or ghouls -- or even the costumed monsters, witches and pirates. What's spooky about the holiday is that it's a mandatory "Sugar Overload Day."
I'm dismayed that, despite soaring rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes among kids, on Halloween, it's an accepted tradition to send your and your neighbors' kids into sugar shock. But, let's face it, when kids come knocking on your door to playfully trick-or-treat , you're actually tricking them, not treating them, by giving them candies galore to gobble.
Even more spooky: The average child scarfs down between 20 to 50 teaspoons of sugar and hundreds of calories on that one night alone!
But research suggests that cutting back on sugar could make your kids more energetic, better spirits, focus better, do better in school, lose weight, score better grades and get along better with their peers.
So why give in to the accepted sugar-gorging way of celebrating when there are alternatives?
1. First off, don't give trick-or-treaters candies where sugar or high fructose corn syrup is the first, second and third ingredient on the label. Also steer clear of candies with hydrogenate fats. All of these are dead giveaways that what you're contemplating passing out has zip in the way of nutritional value. What's more, all that sugar will send blood sugar levels soaring.
2. Offer kid's small, pre-packaged boxes of raisins, non-sugary fruit leather, and packets of cheese, almonds, sunflower seeds, pistachios or shelled sunflower seeds. (Make sure you tell the child not to eat any of these foods if they have particular allergies.)
3. Think about passing out tiny packages of dark chocolate -- of course, the less sugar, the better. (Many researchs show the anti-oxidant properties of dark chocolate.)
4. Hand out small bottles of water. The trick-or-treaters need to stay hydrated!
5. Party favors: Bring healthy fun to children's Halloween by giving out non-edible treats and toys.
Giving out party favors is becoming trendy in parts of country, as evidenced by the variety of fun doodads and gizmos you can find at 99 cent stores across the country and also at OrientalTrading.com.
Children will be delighted with getting toys instead of candies, claims Marlene B Schwartz, PhD, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University.
Dr. Schwartz -- who's been handing out toys for the past five years at her home near New Haven, Connecticut -- has had virtually no complaints.
OK, only one. "Only about one child out of 500 trick-or-treaters ever wanted candy instead of toys," says Dr Schwartz, who was principal investigator for a study, which found that half of 3- to 14-year-old trick-or-treaters preferred these non-sugary favors over candies.
1. Glow-in-the-dark insects
2. Spooky fingers
3. Halloween-themed stickers or pencils
4. Rubber worms, creepy fingers
5. Party favors such as engine whistles, key chains, pen, and stickers.
6. Action figures
7. Kazoos and whistles
8. Baseball cards
9. Plastic animals
10. Spin tops
So, join in the Halloween fun. Help to reclaim the holiday by showing that kids can trick-or-treat without candy. Besides, Dr Schwartz adds, "it can be just as fun and exciting."
© Copyright 2007. Connie Bennett, www.SugarShockBlog.com.
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