(A variation of this publication was first published October 24, 2013)
And I'm not really all that worried. At least not for Halloween night.
The fact that food is not just fuel and like it or not, Halloween and candies are part of the fabric of North American culture itself, and thus suggest that children should not enjoy candy on Halloween is not an approach I support.
That said, Halloween is definitely not pretty. On average, each Response-sized candy contains 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 Oreo calories in a row, and I bet most eves there are more kids who consume 10 or more Halloween enjoys less – 20 teaspoons and more than half of a whole pack of Oreos (there are 36 cookies in an Oreos pack).
So what should a health conscious parent do?
Use Halloween as a teaching moment. After all, it's not the carnival day that's the real problem, the real problem is the other 364 Halloween days where we as a society have decided to reward, relieve and entertain kids with junk food or candy (see my piece on 365 Halloween days here). So what can be taught in Halloween?
Well first, I think if you want, you can discuss some of the added sugar and these rules below provide the elements you can easily visualize for kids and parents.
Second, it allows for a discussion about "careful reduction"Ask your kids how many candies they think they'll need to enjoy Halloween?" Keep in mind that the goal is to have the healthiest life you can enjoy and this is true for kids too, so the smallest amount of candy a kid goes to enjoy for Halloween is probably more than a simple old boring Thursday. our kids have prescribed 3 treatments that are needed (and I'm absolutely guessing some are still on the way) – so our kids come home, dump their bags, and instead of just eating randomly from a huge pile, they chase the 3 treatments I think n that is the most terrible and then silently learn a bit to sacrifice the food taking the time to genuinely enjoy.
So he goes to the closet and gets measured around a candy a day …. but weird …. and I'm not quite sure how that happens, maybe it's a closet, but after the kids go to sleep the piles seem shrink faster than math predicted (though a few years ago my oldest told me he thought their parents ate and would see candies every night). I've also heard of some families grabbing glue guns and making a Halloween candy collage, and dentists offices hosting Halloween Candy Charity Acquisitions.
Finally, a few years ago we found out that the witch switch area had been expanded to include Ottawa. Like her sister the tooth fairy, the switch witch likes to collect things and on Halloween, she flies around looking for piles of candies to "switch"about toys in an effort to keep children's teeth free of cavities for her sister. The joy and excitement in my children's children when they arrived below November 1st that the first year of Switch Witch was something you see and they are already discussing this year.
And if it happens at our house, we haven't issued candies since 2006 and we weren't disappointed. You can buy Halloween carnival toy packs at Costco, Halloween sticks, stickers or temporary tattoos at the dollar store (glow sticks seem to be the biggest hit in our neighborhood) or if your community is enlightened, to get free swimming or towels for your local arena or YMCA.
[Here’s me chatting about the subject with CBC Toronto’s Matt Galloway]