If you have kids – or even if you don’t – Halloween is likely a big deal. I know it’s definitely one of my sons favourite holidays. I mean how can a kid resist costumes and treats!
When my son was a baby I used to dread the idea of Halloween. How was I going to keep him from eating all the candy that I was so against him eating and prevent him from feeling left out from all of the festivities?
My priority as a mom is to keep my son healthy and for me that means keeping him away from food additives, artificial colours and flavours and processed sugar. There are so many dangers and side effects to this stuff that its scary!
What makes it most scary is that there are thousands of food additives, which means that they are in thousands of foods and candies our kids are exposed to. And of course at Halloween they get a hit with a ton of them all in one day – all disguised in pretty colourful packages that are hard for them to resist.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put together a handy guide to the 12 most harmful additives that we should steer clear of Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives. Sadly, you’ll find many of these 12 additives in kids candy. Among them, artificial colors and flavours.
Artificial colors are derived from petroleum or crude oil. Yuck! Animal lab test have shown that artificial colors can cause cancer. And studies on children have found that mixtures of synthetic colorings and the preservatives were associated with hyperactivity. The strange thing is that artificial colors they don’t enhance flavour in any way, they are simply for aesthetics and completely unnecessary.
Artificial flavours are also derived from petroleum and according to The Food Babe they are mixed with solvents, emulsifiers, flavor modifiers, preservatives that aren’t labeled, so you don’t even know what you’re putting in your body.
Sugar of course is another big one that I find myself battling with everyday when it comes to my son. It’s everywhere! Even in organic non-gmo foods, which really ticks me off. Excess sugar is one of the causes of hyperactivity, weight gain, depression in children. Not to mention that many of the forms of sugar found in candy and processed foods is GMO, which poses yet another list of possible problems.
Excess sugar is something I feel really strongly against. If kids are filling up on candies, there is little room for the nourishing stuff. And we all know how yummy it can taste and how addictive sugar can be, so really it should be seen as a treat and not part of our kids daily life. I mean how many of us have tried to quit sugar to lose weight and feel better and failed! It’s seriously addictive stuff that leaves us feeling unhappy and overweight and it can do the same for our kids.
So what do you do as a parent on a holiday that revolves around harmful candies? This is what works for me:
Since my son wanted to trick or treat at the age of 4, I have been doing a trade with him. I don’t want him to be deprived of the experience of going out with his friends to collect candy, so we barter. He goes trick-or-treating and then he trades his loot of a lego or book that he wants. My son is eight now and he still looks forward to this trade.
Of course I am always spending time to explain to him why I don’t want him eating candy and why whole foods are essential. But at the end of the day he’s a kid and while he really gets it, he also wants to eat and do what others do, so it’s a struggle sometimes, but a worthwhile one in my books. As a mom sometimes I am tested constantly, especially on holidays and at parties, and sometimes I don’t have the will to fight it, so I give in…and then of course I regret it. All this to say that I am not perfect, but I do try my best.
And in case you’re wondering if I’m the Halloween scrooge, I’m certainly not. I just give out organic gummies or any other healthier options that still taste good, but don’t contain all the junk found in most candies. In this article by The Food Babe she gives a great list of options you can use.
This is what works for me, but if you have any great ideas that work for you please share!
Happy Halloween to you and your kiddos!:)
PS- If you’re interested in reading more on the dangers of artificial colours and flavours, here are a few great articles:
Is Sugar Bad for You? Here’s How it Destroys your Body
Colors To Die For: The Dangerous Impact of Food Coloring
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In my blog posts I share my own experiences, passions, and what works for me and has worked for my clients. I am not a doctor or certified health practitioner. My blog posts are not meant to treat or diagnose. Please consult your medical practitioner before beginning a new protocol of supplements or new exercise program.