Candy Corns, Smarties & Chocolate Bars Woo Hoo!
Those of you that know me, know I LOVE chocolate, it’s my weakness. This doesn’t mean I pig out on it every night. In fact, after years of eating healthy, I beat myself up if I eat two cookies instead of one, or for eating one cookie and then coming home and eating a brownie. I do eat desserts (contrary to what others believe) but I watch the portions to the extent that if I have more than one cookie, (not a whole sleeve), I’m immediately conscious of it and eat less later on or make sure I am back on track the next day or exercise more. THAT is normal. No one eats perfect every day.
You’d think Halloween would be a struggle for me. All that chocolate! Yes I love Kit Kats and Twix and ANYTHING with coconut and I can’t wait to search my daughter’s Halloween bags for a Mounds Bar. You might think that as a registered dietitian I don’t let my girls go Trick or Treating or I hand out apples to the kiddies on the big day, but Halloween is fun and magical and it’s only one day out of the entire year! I say let them eat chocolate.
I can eat anything I want on Halloween?
Er, No. Well, maybe yes. The thing is, it’s not what you eat that one day, it’s about what you eat throughout the year. When I go food shopping, my supermarket sells cereal in the same aisle as the candy. Every time I buy cereal, I see someone picking up a bag of chocolate. I never understood this. I’d say to my self: Hey, why are they buying that? It’s not Halloween. Or, Why do they sell bags of candy if it’s not October? Then I watched a show one day (I think it was Clean House) and not only did the family have piles of crap all over their house but they had bags and bags of candy in every room (even in the bathroom)! Yes, they were all overweight and probably had 8,000 cavities but that’s when it hit me. Do people buy and eat candy throughout the year? Do they snack on it every day? THAT’S when there is a problem.
No Cupcakes on Your Birthday!
Our school district forbids parents from bringing in treats on their children’s birthday. I understand food allergy concerns, but the main reason they gave was that it promotes obesity. Does it? Is it a sin to eat a cupcake on your birthday? Will children want cupcakes every day because cupcakes = happiness? Will parents be defenseless against their seven year old screaming more, more, more! What if they demand cupcakes every day! Can we stop this madness!
They also say that if we bring in cupcakes on their birthday, they will think that whenever there’s a special occasion, we have to celebrate with dessert. Well isn’t that what traditions are all about? Pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving? Decorating homemade cookies on Christmas? Jelly beans on Easter? Rugelach and Sufganiot on Hanukkah and Hamantachen on Purim? Carvel Ice Cream cake on birthdays?
I never understood why cupcakes on a child’s birthday promoted obesity especially since the school has bake sales at every event and has chocolate fundraisers. You’d be chastised for sneaking in pink cupcakes on their special day but hey, there’s no problem if they want to eat Cheez Doodles and Doritos every day for snack. Nope. None at all.
And how ’bout that kid that brought in a Hershey’s chocolate bar in between two pieces of white bread for lunch? (true story). Not a problem.
“We can’t control that!” The teacher cries. But if you bring in Cupcakes: “You’re breaking the rules!”
Never mind that my daughter is the one bringing in yellow peppers and cucumber coins or strawberries for snack every day. It doesn’t matter that she just finished munching on her green apple or cantaloupe, if you try to sneak a bite size piece of Milky Way into her lunchbox, you WILL get a letter sent home stating NO CANDY!
But Corn Chips are Okay.
Parents Have to Set the Example
I talk to my daughters all the time about healthy eating and make sure they eat fruits and vegetables every day. My ten year old will argue with me and say things like: but mom, I ate carrots when I got off the bus so I can have a treat now. Or: but I ate a protein food so it’s okay to have a snack. Or: but the food label says a serving size is 3 cookies, how come I can only have 2? (knowledge can work against you sometimes). I only hope they remember these things as they become more independent.
The point is, cupcakes don’t promote obesity and Halloween candy is fine if it’s a once a year celebration. There are plenty of occasions we’ll attend like weddings and barbecues and baby showers and there will always be desserts. If our children, as well as ourselves, know the rules, we can indulge and have fun at these parties and not panic.
My daughters also don’t spend hours ringing door bells and return with a pillow case jam packed with enough candy to feed and entire town for two years. After an hour they’re bored and cold and have just enough to keep them satisfied for several days or possibly a week or two. I talk to them about portion sizes and what happens when you eat too much junk.
We made 12 cupcakes last Tuesday and after a week, we have 7 still left. They said they were too sweet.
That’s not to say they never over indulge, but when they do, the’ll have to deal with the upset stomach. And then I just give them “the look”.
What to do?
I let them know how important fruits and vegetables are and they don’t mind eating them in school for snack. If they want dessert, I say “have a fruit or vegetable first” and they are okay with that too. I don’t serve starch (rice, potatoes etc) at dinner but serve veggies or salad with our meat instead. They are both taking Health in school this year (one is in 5th grade and one is in 10th) and the teachers are shocked that they know how to read a food label or that they know they need 5-9 fruits and vegetables every day. I teach them and so should you. I set a good example as well. They know they can have a dessert every day but they must also eat healthy foods too.
There is no deprivation.
If they eat too much candy on Halloween and don’t feel like eating dinner, will it be the end of the world? No. Will they gain 20 pounds by the end of the week? No. Will they demand I buy candy on a regular basis? No. When the candy’s gone, it’s gone. Can I explain how too much is not good for you? Yes. Can I say have a glass of milk with it at least to get some protein and nutrients in you? Yes. Can I instruct them to brush their teeth extra long, before they go to bed? Yes.
So I don’t buy a bag of candy unless it’s Halloween.
I don’t give them chips to eat in school, nor do I buy chips when I have a party.
At parties I do let them enjoy and indulge because there’s not that many parties to go to.
Do we bake and have a dessert after school? Of course.
Do I sneak cupcakes into the school on their birthdays anyway? Well, fortunately for the school, their birthdays are in July and August, but if they were during the year…..hmmmm.
Check this out!
I read this great article the other day and had to share. As a mother of two daughters and a registered dietitian, I thought this was hysterical. With all the horrible news this past month, it made me laugh. Many comments were negative though because I guess they didn’t see the humor in it. The author was just trying to be funny, that’s it. No one is saying you can’t serve healthy fun food at parties (we all do, that’s what makes this funnier). In fact, the image of a mom dumping a peeled banana into a child’s Trick or Treat bag and picturing it oozing all over their Snickers bars made me giggle some more. Relax! We’re just kidding. Us moms have to laugh sometimes too! Enjoy:
P.S. Enjoy Halloween this year with your kids and with the little Trick or Treaters. I love seeing them in costumes. Hand out candy (the cool kind) and have a piece yourself. Last year a lot of us missed Halloween due to Hurricane Sandy and we need to have an extra dose of fun this year. Enjoy, and save the Almond Joy’s for me!
What’s your favorite Halloween Candy? What do you usually give out on Halloween? If you do have a party, what healthy snacks do you provide?
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