Halloween is right around the corner so I wanted to share some advice on how to mitigate the effects of all that extra sugar your kids will be eating. Seasoned parents know that the sugar high and sugar hangover that occurs after Halloween is no treat 🤪 so here are some tips to prevent your kids from turning into little monsters:
1. Feed them a well balanced meal before they go out trick-or-treating or before eating any candy. A meal that is rich in protein, fibre, and healthy fats will take time to digest which will slow down glucose absorption. This prevents that sudden blood sugar spike that makes kids bounce off the walls and it also prevents the sudden crash that occurs hours later leaving your kids hangry and irritable. Filling their stomach with food will also keep them from bingeing on candy if they’re already full. Candy on an empty stomach is definitely a big no-no so make sure they eat first!
2. Make sure your kiddos drink plenty of water to help your kidneys filter out excess sugar and to keep them hydrated. Dehydration leads to the release of a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin signals your liver to release more sugar into your bloodstream. So eating a lot of sugar while not drinking enough water leads to a double whammy when it comes to increased blood sugar. Fill up your kiddos water bottles and encourage them to keep sipping!
3. Buy candy that is free of artificial food dyes and flavours. These have been linked to increased hyperactivity in kids who are sensitive to them and they have shown carcinogenic effects in animal studies. You can’t control what kind of candy your kids get from others but you can control what candy you have at home. Since the pandemic has derailed most kids’ trick or treating plans, parents have more control this year than ever before over what kind of candy their kids get on Halloween. I, for one, am thrilled that I get to choose only healthy candy for my kid this year instead of cringing at all the artificially flavoured and dyed candy in her trick-or-treating bag. My top 5 healthier candy brands are listed below.
4. Get your kids to exercise and burn off all that extra sugar. If your kids do end up with a sugar high and you can’t get them to bed, get them moving so that their muscles will use up more glucose which will bring down their blood sugar levels. Better yet, get them moving before the sugar high hits them to prevent it from happening in the first place. When we exercise our muscles use up sugar that is stored in our muscles and liver (as glycogen) and then that glycogen is replenished by pulling sugar out of our blood. Our insulin sensitivity also increases when we exercise which makes it easier for our muscle cells to absorb glucose from our bloodstream. If you’ve got a mini rebounder stashed away in your basement or storage room then Halloween is the day to take it out!
5. While one night of extra sugar consumption isn’t going to ruin your kids’ health, eating candy for weeks afterward will take a toll. Get rid of the extra candy after Halloween. The “Switch Witch” is a great idea for younger kids – simply read them the poem, have them leave their candy bag beside their bed at night, and then swap it for a toy while they sleep. For older kids you can simply offer to swap it for a toy they want or offer them cash for their candy stash. Our local dentist did a candy buy-back program in previous years which involved giving kids $2/lb of candy they turned in and then shipping it off to the troops overseas. If you don’t like the idea of giving your kids more toys then swap their candy for a fun family outing. Get creative and find something better than candy.
Healthier Candy Options
The following is a list of my favourite candies that are free of artificial food dyes and flavours:.
- Smart Sweets – These treats are much lower in sugar than traditional candy and HIGH IN FIBRE! They are also allergy-friendly and their website has a plant-based category to help you find gelatin-free options. I LOVE their peach rings :). The only caveat with these candies is that because they are low in sugar you may be tempted to let your kiddos binge on them, but since they are so high in fibre eating too much could result in a stomach ache and diarrhea. They are a great addition to a healthier Halloween stash if eaten in moderation though.
- Yum Earth – This company makes healthier, allergy-friendly candy free of artificial dyes and flavours, and most of their products are vegan as well (some of them contain eggs or gelatin so check the ingredients before purchasing). Their lollipops are a hit with my daughter!
- Surf Sweets – This is another brand that is free of artificial dyes and flavours and they also have vegan options like their fruity bears, watermelon rings, delish fish and jelly beans (their gummy bears and sour bears contain gelatin so avoid those 2 products if you are vegan/vegetarian).
- Cocomels – These are delicious vegan caramel candies with less sugar than traditional caramels and no artificial flavours or colours. Cocomels are definitely much healthier than the caramel candies I grew up eating!
- Dark chocolate and chocolate-covered raisins or almonds – these generally don’t contain artificial food colors or flavours so they can be a great addition to your healthy stash of candy.
Remember, one day of eating lots of sugar won’t give your kid diabetes or cancer, but sugar is addictive so one day can easily turn into many days and that’s a problem. It’s YOUR job as parents to make sure that doesn’t happen.
One last tip- after you trade your kiddos for their candy, get rid of of ASAP before you’re tempted to it all yourself 😉. Check with your local charities to find out where you can donate your stash.
Have a safe and fun Halloween! 🎃
Article written by Kiran Sidhu, Holistic Nutritionist. To schedule a free 15 min nutrition consultation with Kiran, click here.