Haunting ghost stories, zombies moaning and howling through the streets, and ghouls, goblins, and vampires knocking at your front door … No, these might not be the scariest aspects of Halloween. While your kids may not happily agree (and there’s nothing wrong with letting them indulge this one day of the year), this start to the holiday season is where their (and our) diets begin to get scary, and sugar is a huge culprit.
It’s not our fault right? We didn’t intend to eat that big bowl of candy corn, Frankenstein decorated cookies, or hot apple cider… It’s for the kids! (or so we tell ourselves). Sugar hides everywhere and is a bigger monster than some people are aware of- it’s associated with various disease and weight gain (read more about the impact sugar has in our diets). Although Halloween marks the seasonal introduction to treats and indulgences, we want to help you identify the hidden sugars you may be consuming- especially throughout the upcoming sweets and treats filled holidays…
Look out for sugar in unassuming areas
That ‘Grande Pumpkin Spiced Latte’ you just picked up from Starbucks after your morning run? Yeah, that contains up to a whopping 49g sugar! That’s almost double the amount of sugar The American Heart Association recommends you should be consuming daily. Try to be cautious about sugar showing up in unassuming areas, like your morning coffee or in other processed beverages. Even the apple cider served at your kids’ trick-or-treat party might contain more sugar than you intended to consume (even if you made sure to steer clear of the candy bowl!).
Understanding natural sugar
Yes, it’s a great start to ditch refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup for natural sources of sugar like agave, coconut sugar, honey, or organic cane sugar, but remember that all types of sugar still add up. Some fruits such as bananas, grapes, and pineapple even contain high amounts of sugar (check out which other fruits contain a lot of sugar). Although a fruity dessert like a caramel apple might sound healthier than a bag of Reese’s Pieces (people tend to forget about the caramel part of the caramel apple), keep in mind that sugar is still sugar and overeating foods high in any type of sugar can lead to weight gain or other blood sugar problems.
Watch out for sugar’s deceiving names
Remember when we said sugar hides everywhere? While you may be a ‘pro label reader’ on processed foods, don’t let sugar stump you! Some common names for sugar you may be more familiar with are agave, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, sucralose, and aspartame, but some less common names for sugar (where highly processed foods really trick ya), include names such as diglycerides, dextrose, xylitol, and sorbitol (here’s a full list). These sugars hide especially well in your most favorite Halloween candies. Remember a good rule of thumb- if you can’t easily pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t be consuming it! However, there are other alternatives to sweeteners that don’t contribute to sugar content. For example, monk fruit is becoming a common addition to foods and beverages, giving them a sweet flavor without the excess sugar.
Tips for making this Halloween a little healthier
- Find healthier candy alternatives
You might not be a fan favorite if you’re the parent handing out bags of baby carrots to displeased trick-or-treaters, but finding healthier candy alternatives might be a better (and more favored) solution! Wholesome candy makes Halloween candy made with organic cane sugar that’s perfect for handing to trick-or-treaters (or enjoying for yourself!). You can also try handing out fun stickers or small toys like these one so sugar isn’t even an issue!
2.) Provide “better for you” Halloween treats
If you don’t want to be tempted by the decadent sugar cookies, pumpkin pie, or endless bowls of candy, provide a healthier Halloween treat for your trick-or-treat party. These Gluten Free Mummy Brownies are made with unrefined sugar and are delicious and kid friendly!
3.) Curb your sweet tooth before Halloween festivities
Before your sugar frenzy kicks in, fill up on protein, fiber, and healthy fats before the Halloween festivities begin. You can make your own nutrient packed smoothie to sip on and ensure you feel satisfied and less tempted to reach for the bowl of candy corn!
4.) Get rid of candy and treats you don’t want tempting you
If you hosted a Halloween party, filled jars with candy around your house for decorative purposes, or just have endless sweets tempting, then as soon as Halloween is over, get rid of them! Especially if they’re sweets you don’t really even care about indulging in. Simply having them around will tempt you to keep at them.
5.) Set guidelines for your kids’ sugar consumption
Kids tend to go a little crazy when Halloween rolls around. Since they’re probably consuming sugar most of the day on Halloween- from school parties, to trick-or-treat parties, to actually trick-or-treating, it may be smart to set some boundaries in the days following. There’s nothing wrong with a small sugar rush from time to time, but it may take a toll on their health if it’s never ending. After Halloween, try limiting your kids to one or two pieces of candy from their trick-or-treat bag after a healthy meal. They’ll look forward to this indulgence and their trick-or-treat bag will go a much longer way!
Although Halloween is known as the ultimate holiday for all things sugary and sweet, it’s important to be aware of the places sugar shows up in our diets (especially the most hidden ones). This year begin your and your kids Halloween season off to the healthiest, yet fun-filled one yet!