I came up with this incredibly lame phrase a few years ago when I saw mini-sized candy corns at CVS. It triggered something in this “Dietitian Mom” that said “stop with the candy at every holiday!” I meant it… We don’t need to offer candy at every single Hallmark-induced holiday. Many schools have even gotten rid of it during class parties! Now… I know I’m going to induce massive backlash on this because for most people Halloween equates to candy; however, it’s gotten out of control because Halloween marks the beginning of approximately 6 months of candy-fueled mania from Hannukah and Christmas, to Valentine’s Day and Easter.
It’s important to look at the numbers – check out this graph that shows the total candy sales by holiday/event, and take note that all four bars on the graph fall in the 5-6 months of winter. This is a time of year that is fraught with dietary and health minefields. I can tell you – if you’re trying to make meaningful dietary behavior changes, having all these “temptations” in the house and office can make it much harder. Did you know that the daily Added Sugar limit for women is 6 teaspoons or 100 cals? Well, 2 Fun Size Snickers have 18 grams of sugar and 160 calories – you’re already over the limit for calories related to sugars for your day and you haven’t even tallied the other sources in your diet. Plus, we all know that there is no nutritional value in added sugar.
Finally, here are some other reasons not to offer candy:
Food allergies – there is a Teal Pumpkin initiative for kids with allergies so they know they can safely trick-or-treat at a house that does not have food-based Halloween treats. What a great way to keep kids safe AND healthy!
Better for the environment – you can cut down on plastic packaging waste by offering non-food treats.
So, I decided to take a stand in our house and pick Halloween to “disrupt” the norm and push for #StickersNotSnickers.
Here’s the plan:
- Go to CVS/Walmart/Amazon
- Choose stickers, pencils, snap bracelets, bandaids – anything but candy
- Put these on a tray
- Offer them to trick-or-treaters on Halloween
Yes, you might get some eye rolls, especially from the older kids, but pat yourself on the back! You took a stand to buck the norm and do something right for kids’ nutrition! It truly is a big deal and the more houses that offer non-candy treats for kids will encourage others to do it too. Eventually, our kids won’t be sugar monsters for the next 6 days… Really, sugar monsters for the next 6 months!
Finally, as I mentioned before, when we dive deep down into our own vices, let’s be clear who we’re really helping – ourselves! If you’re trying to lose weight or stay healthy this winter, Halloween is the start of months of temptations. This year, take a stand early and don’t even let the fun-size devils into your house. Wait until Thanksgiving Day to indulge in a pie or even, gasp, wait until Christmas or Hanukkah to partake in the treats. It’s okay – they’ll be waiting for you. And please don’t give me the excuse that you feel guilty for throwing it out and wasting your money. I tell my clients that their health (physical and mental) is “worth” more than the $5 they spent on the candy so go right ahead and toss it out, and make a commitment to not waste your money on it again!
So, as lame as it sounds, keep Halloween healthy this year by giving out STICKERS NOT SNICKERS.