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  • Writer's pictureStephen Bean

Navigating Halloween

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

It's that time of year where the pumpkins are out and the costumes of your friends are the envy of the neighborhood (How did they make a Bumblebee costume that actually transforms?). Candy and high sugar snacks are synonymous with Halloween, so how do we enjoy the holiday without sending our diets into complete chaos? There are several ways to partake in the holiday without feeling regret about something that claimed to be "fun-sized."

Some tips to enjoy the holiday without regret are below:

1. Make trick or treating into a pedestrian oriented activity. Walking around to each house and then subsequently to other neighborhoods can rack up the steps and ultimately miles of trick or treating. Keeping the body moving will help burn some of those candy calories in the process.

2. Set realistic limits for candy consumption. These limits can be self-imposed or parent imposed depending on how strong one's willpower is in the presence of candy. These limits can look something like: "Okay, I'll only eat 5 pieces of candy on Halloween night and then 2 pieces every day after." Obviously this is individualized per person, but the last thing you want is to end up with no plan and making yourself feel ill.

3. Avoid the food coma or extreme crashes from consuming too much sugar in one sitting. Understand that despite the candies all having different consistencies and ingredients, they all contain added sugars that are empty calories (foods containing no micro or macro nutrients). These sugars can cause large surges in blood sugar. Subsequently, since these sugars are processed through our bodies extremely quickly, they bring about extreme crashes in blood sugar as well. These crashes then leave the door open for our desire to consume more sugar to feel "good/normal" again. Due to these crashes, it's important to consume in moderation and understand that by consuming past the point of feeling full is only going to cause the crash to be that much greater.

4. It's all sugar! Due to the added sugars of these candies, it's important to consume the candy that you want/like vs. consuming what you think is healthier. Sure Smarties don't have any fat vs. Snickers that has several grams of fat per piece. That being said, the candies all have added sugars that are going to be processed through our bodies in a similar fashion, so the unused calories are going to be stored as fat regardless of their source. So enjoy the candies you like and savor. By enjoying your favorite candies, you should not feel obligated to eat all the candy in your bag, especially the candy varieties that you don't enjoy. Eat to enjoy and savor the candies, don't eat to empty your bag/bucket.

For parents that are really struggling with their child's candy consumption but don't want to deprive them of trick or treating, there are solutions. There are organizations that allow families to donate candy to help kids, soldiers, and homeless in need. A few organizations that accept candy donations are:

Operation Gratitude: Sends care packages to US Soldiers

Ronald McDonald House Charities: Provides treats to children and families staying at their facilities

Local Homeless Shelters: Can provide those experiencing homelessness with some sweet treats

Local Dentist's Offices: Many dentists offices provide a candy buyback program. Your child can cash in on some of their hard earned candy stash.

At Camp New Heights we always preach about making smart and informed decisions. By allowing your child to absorb the information about the nutritional content, they will feel empowered to make better and informed decisions. When our campers are at camp, we are never preparing their plates for them, we want to give them the information to make informed decisions. By providing this information and then allowing the camper to make their own decisions, there is a certain level of empowerment that comes with that trust in them to make informed decisions. The speed in which a child begins to make more health conscious decisions will vary from one camper to the next, but we're always there to provide the support to make the best decisions. Provide your camper/trick or treater with the tools needed to make this Halloween a safe and healthier annual event.

Happy Halloween! Enjoy the holiday, stay safe, and make smart/informed choices about consuming Halloween candy.

Stock photo credit: Nicole De Khors from Burst

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