Give the Children Real Treats Instead of the Usual Sugary Path to Diabetes and Obesity!
Ok, my subtitle is rather strong, but I am passionate about reducing sugar consumption in this world so this is a timely reminder. I never give out anything with sugar in it at Halloween as I simply do not see it as a “treat” for children.
Halloween for me as a child was unusually healthy – unusual in the sense that the rest of my life was VERY unhealthy. (You can read more about me at the bottom of this article.)
The last couple of years I have been making sure that my actions show how much I care for the welfare of the children in the community.
I invite you to join me in this endeavor to increase the wellness of children by not giving them candy filled with chemicals in the form of color and artificial flavoring and, of course, sugar. Most of these alternatives have zero calories!
Here are 13 great ideas to fill the baskets of trick-or-treaters:
1. Buy packages of stickers; give one page out at a time
2. Hair bands for the girls
3. Little rubber balls
4. Colored pens for the older children
5. Colored pencils and erasers
6. Little notebooks
7. Party favors like whistles and hats
8. Have a collection of pennies; let them take a small handful. Not for very young children.
9. Small packages of raisins if you can find them
10. Fruit leathers
11. Key chains (cartoon character)
12. Small packages of potato chips (check label to be sure it has only potato, oil and salt) The salt will balance the sugar to some degree.
13. Mini blowing bubbles, set of 100 (packaged for weddings) may come open but are usually secure.
Here is a picture of Diana with her baskets.
Plastic toys (small cars and trucks, water toys like boats, ducks) were on my list, but…. In recent years there have been recalls of toys made in China due to lead. Health Canada has asked the industry to stop using cadmium in their children’s products. There are chemicals in plastics.
Much of this can be found inexpensively at a discount or Dollar Store. When the children first see that there is no candy, it is fun – most of them are very excited to be getting something different and I even hear them yelling happily to their parents about the surprise. The only ones who are disappointed are the teenagers as the best that they get is a little notebook or pen and they are so addicted to sugar that it is a disappointment for them.
I enjoy seeing the excitement of the children and am always here to greet them with a smile, a gift and a compliment about their costumes.
If you still think you are spoiling the children’s fun by not giving them candy, then here are some facts to consider:
1. Among school age kids, the number that are overweight has doubled and the number that are obese has tripled over the past 15 years (Tremblay MS, Willms JD. Is the Canadian childhood obesity epidemic related to physical inactivity? International Journal of Obesity 2003; 27: 1100-1105.) One in three school age kids is either overweight or obese in Canada today.
2. More children suffer Type II diabetes. Obesity is a major factor in Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to blindness. A child who develops Type II as a young teenager will be coming down with complications at the peak of his or her productive life.
3. Obesity studies also show that most organ systems are harmed by obesity in childhood. If a child has obesity, then she raises her chances of suffering the same health risks as obese adults. This means she may have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, increased heart rate, osteoarthritis, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, diabetes, gallbladder disease and heartburn.
Every Canadian must play a part in battle against childhood obesity. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society: “With a rise in the prevalence of childhood obesity comes an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and several other chronic conditions. The way to reduce the incidence of these conditions in children and youth is for physicians, families, and communities to work together,” adds Dr. LeBlanc, chair of the CPS Advisory Committee on Healthy Active Living for Children and Youth. “We have a responsibility to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge, opportunities, and facilities they need to stay healthy and active throughout their lives.”
4. Also, we know that sugar promotes tooth decay.
Sugar’s major drawback is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. Just eight teaspoons of sugar lowers the immune system 25 percent for 12 hours – that is the amount of sugar in one can of pop.
My Own Story:
When I was a kid, Halloween was so different. In my opinion it was much more fun and healthier. We went house to house singing out “Halloween Apples.” We would get lots of apples, oranges, homemade cookies, homemade candy, peanuts, popcorn and of course lots of candy. Candy back then did not have all the chemicals that are in it now.
Of course this all changed and we are not allowed to give out anything homemade due to some very sad people doing the wrong thing with it.
In the past, whenever Halloween would come around, I would wonder what to do. I want the children to enjoy the day but I am concerned by all of the cheap, chemical-sugar-filled candy that they collect and devour. Many years ago I would buy packets of peanuts, but now we know many children are severely allergic to them so that is not good choice. Other years I found small boxes of raisins, but in the past few years have not been able to find them.
Let’s show our care for children’s health by reconsidering what we give them this Halloween.
Let’s join together in this.
For those of you having a Halloween party for your children here a few healthy sweet recipes: