I remember Halloween was so fun when I was a kid. It was great! We ran around for hours filling our pillow cases with as much candy as we could carry long after the street lights came on. The faster you ran the more candy you got. So much sugary goodness in a pillow case. It was so good except it was so bad for us. And its even worse now as sugary sweets are becoming more common place.
Fast forward a few years- I’m a parent and I want my kid to make all the memories, but I don’t want his health to be damaged by all the artificial colorings, preservatives, other chemicals and processed sugars. What is a parent to do? That’s why this year I’m introducing my son to the Switch Witch. He gets the fun without the bad effects of sugar because, yes, sugar is that bad.
Halloween Candy and all the Sugars are So Bad
The sugars, chemicals and preservatives in the most popular candies have been linked to gut damage, behavioral concerns, increased illness and obesity. Yeah, the rain of candies is not good and those houses that think they are being nice by giving out full size candy bars aren’t doing parents any favors. It might taste good but it’s not good for you. Nobody wants their kid to be sick or set up for poor health outcomes.
I notice when my son gets too much candy he becomes the MONSTER and that’s no treat. Artificial colorings found in foods kids eat regularly, like candy, have been linked to ADHD, hyperactivity, and anxiety. I love this little guy, so it is time to come up with a tradition to take the candy out of the treat-filled holiday.
The World Health Organization and The American Heart Association recommends less than 25 grams of added sugar a day. The average American child eats 124 grams or 29 teaspoons on your average day. That spikes for Halloween. Some reports say the average trick or treater will eat 7,000 calories worth of candy with a total of 3 cups of sugar on Halloween. (1) Now think of sitting face to face with 3 cups of sugar. How long would it take you to eat it? I remember sneaking candy all night on Halloween until I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I understand why kids get so sick on Halloween and why obesity has tripled since the 1970’s with 1 in 5 children aged 6-19 being obese. (2)
Keep the Trick or Treat Fun
Last year, my kiddo was so young he just had fun ringing doorbells and getting treats. I knew that wouldn’t last for long and that’s when a friend told me about the Switch Witch. You can get the book but its basically like the tooth fairy. Instead of exchanging money for teeth she exchanges toys for candy. The more candy she gets the better the toys and she uses the candy to fuel her broom. Sugar isn’t good for witches either 😉 I’m starting this tradition with my son, so he can have the fun of the holiday, but I can feel confident his health (and behavior) won’t be destroyed by the fun.
Introducing the Switch Witch for Healthier Halloweens
Here are some tips I learned to help make the process easier:
- Don’t wait until after trick-or-treating is done to introduce the idea to your child. You do not want to celebrate with trick-or-treat melt down. We already started talking about our new tradition in September.
- Make sure you tell a good story. Whether you buy the book to read together, or if you develop your own story, make sure it captures their imagination.
- If you think your child might get freaked out by the idea of a witch visiting in the middle of the night make it a different character like the Great Pumpkin or the Candy Fairy. Hey- this is your tradition- you do you.
- Make sure you have some sweets that they can eat on Halloween too. There are so many sweet options now and options like xylitol suckers make a great treat your kids can enjoy without feeling like they’re missing out. Xylitol is a much sweeter option.
- Make sure it’s a toy they want. If they get something cool they will be even more excited for your tradition next year!
- Find other ways to make the holiday special without making it about food. Find some tips in our article Don’t Feed the Monsters.
- This is the most important tip- THROW THE CANDY AWAY! This reduces the chance that your children will find it which will mean the jig is up or, the more likely outcome, where the adults eat it. Candy isn’t good for kids or adults!
Healthier Kids Means Healthier Adults
You can be a good parent and still keep the fun in Halloween. Your traditions can set your children up to be healthier kids and healthier adults. I know we all wish we had healthier habits but in a world that doesn’t understand the harm of so called “moderation,” the Switch Witch can be the friend you need.
Have you tried the Switch Witch? Let me know if you have or if you are going to introduce her this year.
Written by Dr. Stacy Willey