By Shannon Morehouse, MA, CHHC
It’s almost here…the most frightening holiday for those of us whose children thrive on wholesome, organic, GMO-free, healthfully delicious food. My darling daughter Natalie turns 4 this month. Her idea of an amazing treat is fresh fruit with a small squirt of Ah!Laska Organic Chocolate Syrup. While this is the case, I am not going to deny her the trick-or-treating experience. She does love M&Ms after all. How do we manage the mountain of candy?
#1: We look at the ingredients and if they contain any of the following, we only keep 10 of them and she can only have one of them a day.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
High-Fructose Corn Syrup is so ubiquitous in candy because it is cheap. We know that too much sugar all together is a bad thing, but the reason why I am especially concerned with high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener is because in addition to a ridiculously high content of fructose, it also contains other chemical toxins. What we know, for example, is that chloralkali is used in making HFCS, and it contains mercury. While some may argue that it is a “trace” amount of mercury, I am going to do whatever I can to limit the amount of mercury entering my daughter’s bloodstream.
Partially-hydrogenated oils are trans fats and trans fats contribute to high cholesterol, obesity, and subsequently heart disease. It is also important for children to avoid trans fats because they block the utilization of healthy Omega-3 essential fatty acids that children need for optimal brain development.
Commonly-used food dyes like Yellow #5, Yellow #6, and Red #40 are made from petroleum and have been shown to be carcinogenic in various research studies. Additionally, studies have shown that consumption of artificial dyes contribute to hyperactivity and behavioral problems and should especially be avoided by children on the autism spectrum or those who have ADHD. Note that “caramel color” is also an artificial dye.
#2: The Candy Fairy Visits
Natalie and I put the not-so-offensive candies back in the bag along with her 10 chemically-laden food picks. We take all the remaining chemically-laden food (there is a lot) and then lay them out for the candy fairy. She replaces them with stickers, temporary tattoos, and healthy dark chocolate (such as the Endangered Species brand we carry here at Natur-Tyme).
What Else you Can Do?
Check out halloweenbuyback.com. It is a national organization whereby participating dentists will pay your child $1 for every pound of candy they bring in. They then send the candy to the U.S. Military. Unfortunately, the closest participating dentist in this organization is in Binghamton. Talk to your dentist and encourage him or her to participate!
Give Away Non-Candy Options and Talk to Your Neighbors about Doing the Same
Here are some great non-candy options (mix and match to appeal to kids of all ages):
• Temporary Tattoos
• Bouncy Balls
• Halloween-themed Pencils
• Halloween-themed Erasers
• Halloween-themed rings (spiders—eek!)
• Bottled Water
• Swirly Straws
• Glow sticks