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Halloween Candy: The Truth About The Treats

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THE weekend kids have been waiting for is over. For many health-conscious moms like me, it’s a nightmare of a weekend.

Still, Halloween can be a fun affair without endangering our children’s health.

For starters, let us take a look at some facts and myths regarding Halloween treats, courtesy of the University of Carolina School of Medicine, plus a couple that I researched on my own.

Halloween is the holiday when the most sweets are consumed. This could be true. It is estimated that 5% of all sweets are bought and consumed during Halloween and the week after.

Halloween treats are only for kids. Dream on. Experts believe that parents eat one candy bar of every two the child brings home, especially the chocolate.

Dark chocolate is healthy. This is a rather recent one. Yes, new research has shown that dark chocolate is full of anti-oxidants that are supposedly heart-friendly. But let us face it. Dark chocolate as such is bitter, something that little kids definitely wouldn’t it. What makes it taste good is the sugar. Besides, it also contains lots of transfats. So don’t believe for a second that dark chocolate is a health food because it is not healthy at all.

Fat-free candy is healthier than chocolate. Okay, so fat-free candy may not contain transfats. But what about the sugar? And the artificial colors and flavors?

Halloween candy may be poisoned. Yes, there were a couple of tainted Halloween treats over the years but these actually involved family members poisoning their kids. Poisoned Halloween treats is simply an urban myth, I believe.

Sugar-free candies are the healthiest option, right? Yes and no. The so-called sugar products contain only very small amounts of sucrose – “table sugar” as we know it. Instead, sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners are used such as saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, and acesulfame potassium to make these products sweet. Remember that these are all food additives. Currently, these additives are still controversial in terms of health risks but a few studies have shown that artificial sweeteners intake  is linked to weight gain.

So what is mom to do, without taking drastic and nasty measures such as those taken by Willy Wonka’s dad-dentist? Here is what I do every Halloween:

  • I feed my kids before going trick or treating. This way, they are less likely to overindulge.
  • I make my kids promise to take all sweets home for safety inspection. I haven’t had any problems with broken promises so far.
  • Together, we sort out the most hazardous treats (hard candies are almost 100% augar and hard on the teeth) from the lesser evils (e.g. chocolates, gum drops).
  • They get to choose one or two treats to eat on that same evening. They deserve it after all the hard work they’ve done. The rest is kept for the next days.
  • We ration the sweets, one treat each day. Pretty soon, these sweets will be forgotten and become rock hard. After 3 weeks, they end up in the rubbish bin, with the kids’ blessings

USA Today article cites another possibility: giving the candies away. One way is to give excess Halloween treats to senior citizens’ homes, community centers and soup kitchens which can give out the sweets as dessert.

Any other creative ideas on how to get rid of excess Halloween treats? Share them with us here at BOL!


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