How to Have a Healthy Halloween (without giving up candy!)
With Halloween around the corner, we are likely to start seeing gummy bears, M&Ms, starbursts, candy corn and lots of other sugary treats popping up all over supermarket and convenience store shelves.
These candies are not just high in sugar, but they are also loaded in artificial food dyes. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) notes that the most commonly used food dyes (Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, and Yellow 6) are made from petroleum and synthetic chemicals, which alone is bad enough. Worse though, these chemicals can increase a child’s risk of allergies, hyperactivity and behavioral impairments, and the three most widely used dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) are contaminated with potential carcinogens.
Why are the artificial dyes used?
The main reason is simply to make products more appealing to kids (they make food colors brighter) and to save money (they are cheaper than natural food dyes!) But since the unnatural ingredients add nothing to the food’s nutritional value and may actually be harmful, I strongly suggest that you limit your children’s consumption of foods that are made with them. This can be especially difficult around Halloween, but there are other options out there:
The following treats don’t contain any artificial colors or flavors:
Popchips 100 calorie snack bags (amazon.com)
Let’s do organic gummi bears (whole foods)
Ian’s organic 100 calorie cookie pouch packs (whole foods)
Sunspire peanut butter cups
Q.bel crispy rice wafer bars (Whole Foods)
All Natural Necco wafers (CVS)
Figamajigs (Target, Whole Foods, Safeway, Vons)
Surf Sweets organic jelly beans (Whole Foods, Bed, Bath and Beyond)
Marich Green beans natural jelly beans (amazon.com)
Pearson’s Mints (Wal Mart, Costco, Walgreens)
Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Squares with White Mint Filling (Kmart, Target and WalMart)
Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
Canel’s Milk Lollipops (Kmart)
Linette peanut butter cups (WalMart)
Florida’s Natural Au’some Fruit Juice String & Au’some Fruit Juice Nuggets: Strawberry, Blueberry, Apple/Cranberry, and Orange (Walgreens, Whole Foods, Walmart, Costco. Safeway, Stop and Shop)
Some other tips to help you handle your kids’ Halloween candy intake are:
- Before kids go trick-or-treating, try to serve a filling (ideally healthy!) meal so they’re not hungry when the candy starts coming in.
- Know how much candy your child has collected (always good to check it anyway for safety’s sake) and store it somewhere in the house. Having candy in their room can be an irresistible temptation for many kids.
- Eat Halloween candy in moderation yourself—kids watch how their parents handle food.
- Buy your candy at the last minute and get rid of any leftovers (bring them to work) after all the trick or treaters have stopped by your house.
- Allow candy to be eaten without other distractions at the kitchen table (no tv, computer, etc) to prevent mindless eating – this will benefit all you adults out there too!
Halloween doesn’t have to be a nutritional horror. Avoid handing out candy made with artificial foods dyes and prevent your children from overdoing it on the sweets by setting some ground rules. Don’t let them trick-or-treat on an empty stomach and keep the candies out of sight (and out of mind) – this will prevent you from eating too many of them yourself! And most importantly, remember that Halloween, like other holidays, is a single day on the calendar. If your family eats sensibly during the rest of the year, it will have a more lasting impact than a few days of indulgence.