I am not one to repeat articles or repeat blogs. However, I wrote this blog in 2009 and I would like to re-post it for my new readers. In anticipation for this upcoming holiday (and for the holidays in Nov and Dec), I'd like for you to please keep in mind my philosophy of having a healthy relationship with food as you read this article.
I'm not a parent (only a doggy parent) so it is unlikely that there will be Halloween candy in our place on October 31st. I do not work in an office so I am pretty sure that I will not be indulging in the office candy bowl at 10am and 3pm everyday. Lastly, I am not a big fan of the selection of candy at Halloween so there will be no tootsie rolls, lollipops or butterfingers in our place.
I am not anti-Halloween Candy. I am just not ok with people going with the all-or-nothing approach when it comes to sweet treats. You eat something you normally don't eat and you feel guilty. Then you say "who cares" and you overindulge. Or, on the other hand you say "no-that food will make me fat" and you stick to a super-strict diet until the day when you just can't continue eating only low calorie, fat-free foods. Even worse, you crash diet and compulsive exercise in order to get to x-weight by x-holiday in order to eat whatever and however much you want.
I think it good to be concerned about what you put in your body and how you take care of your body but this one body needs to be taken care of 365 days a year...forever long you want to live (yes-in many ways you are in control of your future health).
Speaking of health and unhealthy foods, isn't is amazing how many organic and "healthy" items are claimed to provide health benefits but the sugar and/or fat content is no better than a candy bar?
Ex. Greenwise Market Organic Cranberry Juice 8 oz. - 140 calories, 35 g sugar.
Ex. 37 Reese's Pieces - 140 calories, 16g sugar.
Some of my favorite memories are from Halloween. I have always been a big fan of dressing up and playing make-believe and most of all, being creative with costumes. It's been many years since I have dressed up for trick-or-treating and a few years since I have attended a Halloween party but as a young child, I would count down the days until Halloween night. I love this holiday!
I never want to take away the enjoyment of Halloween from my kids and I don't think you should either. If we all had a balanced and portioned controlled eating plan for most days of the year, what is one night of candy? Additionally, all that candy can be spread out for weeks and weeks and you never have to worry about not having a sweet treat one or two times per week.
However, it seems as though times have changed since I was young. I remember rushing home from my 2 hour swim practice in order to get ready for trick-or-treating. Now, many children get off the couch from playing on their Wii or computer and huff and puff when walking up and down hills or stairs. It is no shock that many American children are overweight and even obese. According to statistics from NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), the prevalence of obesity obesity has increased from 5% (1976-1980) to 12.4% (2003-2006) in children 2-5 years old. For children 6-11 years old, obesity has increased from 6.5% to 17%. For children 12-19, prevalence has increased from 5-17%. I always ask myself are children eating too much unhealthy food which encourages a sedentary lifestyle with lack of energy or are children living a sedentary lifestyle due to lack of motivation, enjoyment for in-home mindless "activities" (tv, video games, etc.) and a concurrent desire to eat unhealthy food because they are bored? Just something to think about since I am sure it is just as hard to motivate an overweight child to put down the video games and get more active as it is so encourage a child to eat healthy foods when his/her favorite dinner is pizza, chicken wings and coke.
On the topic of overweight children, rather than running or walking all over the neighborhood, children are now riding electronic scooters to cover more ground with minimal calorie burn. I saw this on the Today show this morning:
"Electric Razor Scooters, $150-$260 (or average eBay price $68)
Kids over eight can get around their neighborhood in style with these electric scooters. All you need to do is plug 'em in and let 'em rip."
I remember competing with my brother as to which one of us can get the most candy by covering as much as we could in our neighborhood. Thinking back, I would rush home from my 2 hour swim practice, my brother would barely make it home in time for trick-or-treating from his 2-3 hour gymnastics practice and we both still had the energy to run around the neighborhood with our friends. Maybe our sports trained us to be better trick-or-treaters :)
All kidding aside, I have one major point to this blog that we can all relate to;
1) If you live a healthy and balanced lifestyle of exercise and healthy eating, on most days of the week (5 at the minimum) you can enjoy a sweet treat every now and then, and not sabotage your body composition goals. 1 tootsie roll will not make you fat, so don't tell yourself you "feel fat" by eating one. However, 5 candy bars (even if they are bite sized) in one sitting (on an empty stomach because you wanted to "save" your calories) may encourage a shift in blood sugar, which may encourage an uncomfortable feeling the next morning when you attempt to wake up for a workout (but you missed because you were too stuffed from late night candy eating). However, waking up for the workout may be another topic. That overindulge of candy may cause you to change your perspective on healthy meal planning and snacking on the day after you "cheated" on your diet plan. For the next three days you may find yourself avoiding snacks, skiping breakfast, sticking to a 1000 calorie diet, exercising compulsively and not eating after 7pm. I'm sure this sounds extreme but just think of the last time when you felt you fell off your healthy eating plan. If your eating plan is reasonable, there is no reason to fall off anything. However, if your eating plan is strict, tasteless and too complicated it is likely that you will feel cheated on every day of the week. I really don't like that word "cheated" because it is such a harsh word to use when you are talking about your eating or your food choices.
Think of when a person would use the word cheated: "Hello Mr. Smith, your son was caught cheating on a test. I'm divorcing from my husband/wife because he/she is cheating. I was disqualified from a race because I cheated.
Always realize that your eating choices are lifelong eating choices. So, in addition to not using the word "cheated" when you choose to indulge on some sweet treats around the Halloween holiday (or any holiday), be sure to recognize the importance of being a good role model for your children and friends and for taking care of yourself by living a healthy and balanced life.
Enjoy a sweet treat (or two) this Halloween!
A little reference for all those trick-or-treaters and candy eaters:
(popular Halloween Candy - nutrition facts from Calorieking.com)
1. Tootsie Roll - 50 calories, 7g sugar
2. Hershey kisses - 1 oz. 153 calories, 8.7g fat, 5.8g sat. fat, 14.5g sugar
3. Nerds - 1 box (1.7oz). 188 calories, 43.9g sugar
4. Air head - 2 bars. 120 calories, 1g fat, 26g sugar
5. Candy - 1 serving (22 pieces). 140 calories, 28g sugar
6. Snickers Bar - 280 calories, 14g fat, 5g sat. fat, 30g sugar
7. Baby Ruth fun size - 100 calories, 4.5g fat, 2.5g sat. fat, 11g sugar
8. Reese peanut butter cup snack size - 90 calories, 5g fat, 2g sat. fat, 8g sugar
9. Reese's pieces - 1 serving (50 pieces). 190 calories, 9.1g fat, 7.3g sat. fat, 221.8g sugar.
10. Milky Way fun size - 75 calories, 3g fat, 2g sat.fat, 10g sugar.
11. M&M's - 1 package (1.7oz) - 240 calories, 10g fat, 6g sat. fat, 31g sugar
12. Dum Dum - 25.5 calories, 5g sugar
13. Blow Pop - 62 calories, 5.4g sugar
14. Twizzlers - 1 serving (4 pieces) - 150 calories, 1g fat, 18g sugar
15. Smarties - 25 calories, 6.2g sugar
16. Kit Kat snack - 73 calories, 3.7g fat, 2.3g sat. fat, 7.3g sugar
17. Twix fun size - 80 calories, 4g fat, 1.5g sat. fat, 8g sugar
Ideas for too much Halloween candy in the house:
1) Donate candy (ex. Ronald McDonald house or hospital) - a little candy for a person is a sweet treat. Too much candy is unhealthy. For everyone 1 piece of candy that your child wants to keep, they must donate 2-3 pieces.
2) Make a Halloween house out of candy and graham crackers (like a gingerbread house)
3) Give away candy as a present - I'm not a big fan of giving others food that you are avoiding (seems silly to me, as if you are avoiding the poison but offering it to others). However, making a gift bag for your child's teacher, piano teacher, sports instructor, mailman/woman, etc. would be a special treat. Here's what to do for a healthy twist, have your child put 3-4 candy bars/pieces in a baggie and for each baggie let your child pick out 1 piece of fruit to put with the candy (etc. banana, pear, apple, kiwi, orange, etc.) and put it in a brown bag and let him/her color the bag before giving it away.
4) Bake/cook with chocolate - if you have chocolate candy, freeze it and use it for a recipe. Get your children involved in the kitchen. Since the candy is likely loaded with sugar, find healthy and low calorie recipes (ex. http://www.fatfree.com/cgi-bin/recipes.cgi) to incorporate the candy into the recipe (ex. chocolate pieces in my muffin recipe or fruit salad w/ chocolate covered raisins or yogurt w/ Reese's pieces on top). Or, find ways to incorporate pieces of candy with healthy food (fruit, yogurt and a few pieces of candy corn)
5) Teach your children about ingredients in candy - children are our future and if you are concerned about your own health it is likely that you are concerned about your child's health. Look up the ingredients in a Milky Way Bar (google would be the easist) and teach your children about the importance of making healthy food choices. What is saturated fat? Why are there so many ingredients in an Air Head bar? Ex. Choose raisins over chocolate covered raisins. Dark chocolate over a snickers bar. Dum-Dum lollipop over a jawbreaker.