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So tomorrow is Halloween, time for all those superheroes, goblins, witches, ghosts, and princesses to go knocking onto doors asking for candy. I have always found this tradition a little odd since we tell our kids all year long not to talk to strangers or to get into stranger’s cars even if they are offered candy, yet we allow them to put a pillow case over their head and ask for candy once a year….

Being a mom of 2 kids I deal with the internal conflict of Halloween every year. I want my kids to feel like they fit in and enjoy these traditions with their friends, but then the other part of me does not want them dressed in dark costumes and walking the street at night. Part of me wants my kids to feel comfortable enough with their neighborhood that they can talk to our neighbors, but the other part of me does not want them going door to door asking for candy. And then there is the candy….part of me wants them to know in moderation and with the balance of good eating and exercising that an occasional splurge is ok, but then the other part of me knows how addictive sugar is and I do not want my kids having to deal with the side effects of refined sugar addiction.

I do not want my kids to feel that 3 p.m. exhaustion that only a snickers bar can fix. I do not want them to be so “hangry” at me when they are hungry. I do not want them to have to deal with the “muffin top” even if they are running their butts off exercising. I hate how addictive refined sugar is and I hate that my kids can get hooked to it. Scientists have found that refined sugar is addictive and stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin. Just like those hard-core drugs, getting off sugar leads to withdrawal and cravings, requiring an actual detox process to wean off. Why put my kids through that? Is my reasoning of social acceptance enough?

The big food giants (think Kraft, Coca-cola, pepsi, dole, general mills, nestle) know how addictive refined sugar is and how hooked we will become on their products by consuming refined sugars so their products are full of refined sugar and artificial sugar substitutes. Pretty genius business move, giants! Sucks for our health though…

Back to Halloween…I will admit I love dressing up, I love seeing my kids dressed in costume. I love the imagination that kids have, especially when it comes to deciding what to be for Halloween.

My kids in 2008
My kids in 2008

I wish I had a magic answer on how to make the Halloween conflict go away. In the past I have had my kids turn in their Halloween candy to the orthodontist who then paid them for it ($1/lb). Now that they are older and I cannot get away with the magic “disappearing” candy. When they were younger I let them pick out 10 of their favorite pieces, put them in ziplocs with their names on them and freeze them. Then I pray that I will forget where their candy is.

I am a recovering sugar addict. One time I ate a leftover pan of brownies out of the trash can. I would “diet” and then would wake up in the middle of the night and eat candy just so no one in my family knew I was eating it. I put every flavored syrup in my coffee, drank Dr.Pepper (occasionally I would have diet thinking I was being healthy), ate bags of candy corn, jelly beans, and cinnamon bears like it was my last day on earth. Candy was what got me through most days. Then I would finish my night off with a sugary margarita or mojito. Sugar was how I stayed “fueled”. The only problem is it was ruining my insides. My digestion was so overworked trying to process all this refined sugar that it could not deliver any nutrients to my pancreas, liver, and adrenals. Those poor guys were deprived of the nutrients that they needed to work for me that they instead decided to work against me…I am sure so many of you can understand and relate to my conflict of Halloween.

This year I am handing out temporary Halloween tattoos. I will let my kids pick one indulgent treat on Halloween and then a few pieces of candy to have over the next couple of months. We live in a new neighborhood and even though they are “tween age” I will still trick or treat with them. This year we will make this Halloween conflict a dinner topic conversation, I am excited and curious to hear their take on them. Children are amazingly insightful.

And to all of you, have a safe Halloween and remember the sugar that your children (and you) eat and drink is not just affecting them but generations to come. The diet we eat will not just affect us now, but will affect the generation that we reproduce (for more on this read
Pottengers Cats)

In good health,
Ali

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