Halloween is almost upon us and while all of that candy can be a treat for all the children, the sugar-fueled day is altogether trickier for the parents. When trying to follow a Paleo lifestyle, Halloween can be much more frightening than the glowing skeletons, howling ghosts, gremlins, goblins and silly monsters. Halloween is scary because of the plethora of high fructose corn syrup and unidentifiable ingredients laden in candy.
According to some reports, the average costume-clad little one consumes a staggering 7,000 calories in Halloween candy each year. To put that into some context that adds up to around three full cups of sugar, which is the equivalent of your children wolfing down 169 sugar cubes. This is definitely not a Paleo parent’s idea of a nutritious snack!
You are well aware of the danger that too much sugar can pose to your health, but convincing your kids to ignore mountains of candy in favour of something a little healthier can be especially hard at this time of year.
Halloween can be a tough time for children whose parents are doing their best to nourish them with Paleo principles. Trick-or-treating has evolved into more of a right than an option for children. Starting from this premise allows parents to guide them towards smarter choices. If they are denied the excitement, they will end up smuggling candy-filled pillow cases up to the privacy of their own bedrooms and eating it late into the night until it is gone.
It’s not all bad news however. With a little bit of preparation and some clever kitchen hacks you can turn Halloween from a trick into a treat for the whole family. There are ways to make Halloween fun and relatively Paleo friendly which will help your child feel less excluded during the trick-or-treat season.
When choosing to indulge or allow your child to enjoy some festive treats, a a few things to keep in mind are:
Try not to feed your kids, or yourself, too much in any one sitting. It can be way too easy to over-indulge on sweet treats. The body can only handle a certain amount at one time and excess food eaten that cannot be used by your body for immediate energy gets turned into fat tissue and food for pathogenic gut microbes. Especially when indulging in a treat, be mindful to not consume too much energy, especially in the form of sugar, at one time.
Whether you’re hosting or attending a Halloween party, or just trying to get through the day, make sure to incorporate protein and vegetables to balance out your snacking and prevent blood sugar spikes. Eating a protein and/or fat with your carbohydrates slows down the delivery of glucose to your bloodstream. These 2 macronutrients do not spike blood sugar as quickly or as drastically as carbohydrates do.
When it comes to you, avoid snacking on these tasty bites alone. Eating carbohydrates without a protein or fat can trigger a blood sugar roller coaster. The spikes and dips in your blood sugar can trigger hunger, fatigue, crankiness, and cravings. This cycle then causes a desire for even more sweet-laden foods.
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Creative Non-Food Options
Make an agreement with your children before they embark on their Halloween adventures that they can go trick-or-treating if they give you their candy afterwards. There are two great ways to encourage them to participate in your plan:
This works especially well with younger children. Have your child hand over their trick-or-treat candy at the end of the night and in the morning, they will discover that the Switch Witch has replaced the candy with a fantastic gift instead!
Caveat: Be sure to let them know that the Switch Witch (much like Santa Claus) ‘knows’ when they may have hidden a piece of candy from the stash.
This is the better option for older children.
- Host a contest with your trick-or-treaters and weigh their candy at the night’s end. This will discourage snacking on candy throughout the night, (as will sending them out after a nutrient dense Paleo friendly meal). Employ the classic “buy back” scenario and pay them per piece of candy, or per pound of candy, with bonuses going to the winner.
- Let your kids buy privileges with their candy. Additional iPad/computer/TV/device time, extended bed times, extended curfew (if that is a possibility in your household) can each cost a certain number of pieces and/or types of candy.
- If there is a big-ticket item that your child has been eyeing, you might let them trade in their whole candy haul for it.
- Negotiate a certain amount that they get to eat on Halloween night and then ditch the rest.
Within a couple of holidays your children will become accustomed to the routine and rather than complain about it, they will happily anticipate their non-food ‘prizes.’ Eventually they will come to understand that these artificial foods and processed high sugar candies are no better than the junk you all, as a Paleo family, avoid every day. This is ultimately a great lesson to be learned.
Do your best to make real food fun. Here are a few of our favorite Paleo friendly snacks and treats to make and share with your children.
Of course, there are also healthier options available if you are wanting to hand out food treats. You could make your own but this tends to work best when you have discussed this previously with other parents and you have an agreement with them.
And if making your own is not on the agenda this year…….
Paleo Treats sells some seriously delicious desserts that will instantly capture the heart and taste-buds of any chocolate-lover. They sell 6 different types of paleo cookies and bars that will satisfy your sweet cravings whilst still adhering to your Paleo lifestyle choices.
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Other possibilities include things that could be considered “less bad” treats include bought sweets such as organic lollipops, organic fruit snacks and the like. These get pricey and are still candy, but are certainly better options than most of the commercially available Halloween fare!
Have fun with your family. Soak in the moments. Laugh a lot. Feed your mental and social health, knowing it will benefit your physical health in the long run and that choices you make consistently over time matter the most.