A Happy & Healthy Halloween

Hello out there, friends on the internet! I hope everyone has been having a happy and healthy fall. It’s been absolutely gorgeous here in Connecticut, and I’ll be sad when these fall leaves start to go.

But before that happens, we have a holiday coming up! It’s Halloween pretty soon, and everyone knows what that means- candy!!

Now if you know me at all in real life, you know I love candy. I can take or leave most sweets like ice cream/cookies/cake/pie 99% of the time, but my sugar downfall has always been candy. Now as an adult medical provider who regularly advises her patients to limit sugar, I try to keep this habit in check most of the time (although I probably owe the makers of Sour Patch Kids a large commission for getting me through my doctorate degree).

Halloween is intrinsically linked to candy consumption in this country. There’s been bags of all sorts of trick-or-treat goodies on sale at every grocery store around here since August. This is not great for obvious reasons. If you’re anything like me and you buy candy early, there’s a very real chance that candy will never make it till Halloween, leading to a vicious buy-eat-repurchase cycle.

Sugar consumption is out of control in this country. Now I’m not saying here that treats can’t be enjoyed in moderation. But as a whole, we consume way too much sugar, a dietary pattern that is linked to many adverse health conditions. So (especially when stores start pushing candy sales two months early) do we really need to add sugar to a holiday that already has a ton of fun things associated with it?

Luckily there’s some options. You can always buy non-candy treats like individual snack bars, bags of almonds, or mini bags of pretzels/crackers to hand out.

The other option is to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a relatively new idea, but I think it’s an awesome one. Created and sponsored by Food Allergy Research & Education (as well as supported by many other organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, the Allergies and Asthma Foundation of America, and more), the project works to help ALL kids enjoy a safe, happy, and healthy Halloween by encouraging people to have non-food based treats available at Halloween. There are so many kids out there with life-threatening food allergies, as well as kids with dietary restrictions due to a number of medical conditions, who just can’t safely enjoy the candy that they get trick-or-treating.

Kids with food allergies and dietary restrictions can have a really hard time at  a holiday like Halloween, feeling left out and different from their peers. By providing non-food based treats like stickers, pencils, bouncy balls, glow sticks, erasers, etc., you can ensure that all kids who come to your door walk away feeling like they got to enjoy their trick-or-treating like everyone else does.

So how do you participate? All you have to do is get a pumpkin and paint it teal or print out one of these fun flyers if you don’t feel like painting (downloads of the flyers are available at the website I’ve linked to above). You may have even seen pre-painted teal artificial pumpkins at craft stores like Michael’s, so that makes it easier to grab and display a teal pumpkin that can be re-used year after year!tppprintposterthumbThis is what I do at my house: I print out a Teal Pumpkin Project sign and display it on the table with a selection of treats. We have regular candy bars, a tub with bags of Halloween-shaped mini pretzels that are made in a dedicated peanut-free facility, and fun stickers. This gives the kids options and makes everyone feel included. It’s not expensive at all, and it’s so worth it in the end!

I hope everyone has a fun and spooky Halloween! Until next time, be well.