Tips for Surviving the Candy Season
October officially starts the “candy season” and so for the six months, parents will have to face aisle after aisle of candy displays. It’s not just the pressure by marketers to buy; it’s that these sweet treats are steeped in tradition and have become beloved holiday activities.
We revel in buying mega bags of individual candies for the ghosts and goblins who come to our doors begging for candy. We lovingly stock up on stocking stuffers made of peppermint and chocolate and wrap them in ribbon to say, “Merry Christmas.” We’ve learned to say, “I love you” with heart-shaped boxes full of candy. And then we say “Happy Easter” with a basket full of beans and bunnies.
The challenge is to find new ways to celebrate these joyous times in our lives when all the stores and TV ads are pushing the emotional connection to candy and junk food. Even our churches and schools continue to celebrate with candy, making it really difficult to say, “No” to a preschooler because they want to join in the fun with everyone else. It’s enough to make a mom who chooses not to feed her children candy feel like a party pooper, or worse yet, judgmental.
Here are some tips for making holidays less about candy and more about love:
- Research homemade treats that use healthier ingredients. Pinterest is a great place to start to find websites that post recipes and ideas. When you cook and bake from scratch, you can avoid buying the processed foods that are loaded with preservatives and artificial ingredients. Also, try incorporating whole wheat flour and sugar replacements into your favorite recipes. The time and effort you put into these new holiday traditions will say “I love you” in ways like never before.
- Shop your local health food store to find healthier candy treats. Fruit Sparx are candies made with Xylitol and no sugar. Bags of 30 wrapped candies are available at Xlear.com or at Vitamin Shoppe stores. It may cost a little more, but it’s certainly less expensive that treating the illnesses that come with the sugar.
- Beware of dyes and artificial ingredients in candy, especially if your child has ADHD. “Many parents would be horrified to learn that most of the synthetic food dyes used to make Halloween candies so colorful and appealing to kids are petroleum byproducts imported from China,” said Jane Hersey, National Director of the Feingold Association, a charity that helps children with learning and behavior problems. Look closely at any ingredient labels on the candy and toss those containing synthetic dyes, such as Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1. See their website for more information and a shopping guide for alternatives. Feingold.com
- Focus on an activity and spending quality time. For example, allow your children to have a home party with their friends instead of trick or treating. Play games, serve healthy food and make a funny video that your kids can keep for years to come. You can even carve pumpkins and roast the seeds for a healthy treat. (Have a healthy, fun party with kids and you will not be the party pooper mom!)
- Speak up. Don’t be a complainer, but be an involved parent. Join the parent groups associated with schools, clubs and places of worship and guide those organizations to celebrating in other, healthier ways. Have a mindset against processed chicken nuggets, candy and cupcakes at kid parties and help create new traditions that implement creativity and a celebration of healthy kids!
- Talk with your children about limits before the party season gets into full swing and come to an agreement. Together find creative ways to dispose of the candy they will get at events, parties and trick and treating. Let them know they can keep some, but then find places that accept candy. Many local dentists have buy back programs or find groups that are collecting candy to send to troops overseas. On Thursday, November 3, bring candy to the Long Center on Belcher Rd. in Clearwater between the hours of 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Children 17 and under who bring in their candy will get a prize from the pumpkin prize box and a chance to win prizes such as a new bike, a Play Pass, or tickets to an upcoming Bucs game.
- It’s tough to say “No” to all the treats, so if you indulge, take care of your body. Eat balanced meals at the other times. Visit your health food store or wellness practitioner and learn about supplements that can help you cleanse your system after the parties. Drink plenty of water and exercise. And of course, brush those teeth.