Healthy Halloween! Doesn’t that statement just make you want to throw eggs at my windows and TP my trees? Those two words are totally contradictory, right? You definitely don’t want to be “that house” in the neighborhood that gives out raisins and apples to all of the little witches and werewolves on Halloween night. On the other hand, do you really want to be the one contributing to our nation’s expanding waistline?
Sugar found in most candy is an unnatural substance that the body cannot handle in large quantities. Think you have it under control? Sugar is addictive! The average American consumes over 115 pounds a year! Over time, consuming excessive sugar wreaks havoc on the body, significantly contributing to diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, mental illness, hypertension and even cancer. In addition, when your body has more sugar than it needs for energy, it converts it to fat, which leads to weight gain.
So what are you supposed to do? If you examine the labels on just about any food item, you will discover that just about everything contains sugar. It is impossible to totally eliminate sugar from our diets. For instance, a can of a sugar-sweetened beverage contains about eight teaspoons of sugar, which is two more than the average woman should consume in one whole day…yikes! Our bodies do need some sugar as an energy-providing carbohydrate. The key is in finding the right kind of sugars for our bodies. Since our cells do not have the capability of discerning good and bad sugars, it is important to indulge our sweet tooth with foods that also bring other nutrients that the body needs.
Naturally occurring sugars in fruits, whole grain pastas, dairy products and many vegetables provide energy for our brains, red blood cells and muscles while providing great nutritional value at the same time. Fill up on these foods instead of those containing harmful simple sugars, like soft drinks, candies and many packaged snacks.
Am I suggesting you pass out fruit smoothies and protein bars to the trick-or-treaters? Not exactly. Be mindful with your selections. Check out the labels. Choose treats that are lower in sugar and in trans fats. Think outside the candy box. Hand out pretzels or popcorn. Encourage activity with coupons to the local bowling alley. Am I encouraging you to skip all of the yummy Halloween treats? Never! Just cut back a bit this year. Perhaps fill up on a healthy meal before breaking out the candy bowl. Then you may be too full to over-do it. Pick out your favorites to eat in moderation and pass on the rest.
Halloween only comes around once a year. Go ahead — have fun! Ooh and ahh over the princesses, and laugh at the silly clowns. Shriek with horror at the scary ghouls. Beware of eggs and TP, and eat candy … with caution.