Fighting Halloween Hangovers

Kids love so much about Halloween: the decorations, the costumes, and the candy.

Parents however, have to deal with the after-effects of a week-long candy binge-fest: stomach aches, trouble concentrating, hyperactivity, fatigue, and then colds and flues. Many are left wondering if there’s anything they can do to prep their kids for the onslaught of sugary treats without making them feel deprived.

10 tips to keep your kids feeling great on Halloween:

1. Spread out the Treats. Naturopath Dr. David Manning says that, “from a glucose/insulin/glucagon system point of view, it’s better to just have one or two [treats] a day. This will not cause a dysfunction of the pancreas or liver in processing the small amount of sugar, but having a very large amount [of candy] in a few days does considerable shifting of these systems and can [actually] lead to a pre-diabetic state.” In other words, having kids binge on all of their candy for two days can lead to problems with insulin regulation, which can cause symptoms that are consistent with a pre-diabetic state: hunger, weight loss or gain, flu-like symptoms, and fatigue.

2. Have Fun with Fruit. Cut up banana and put it on a popsicle stick, dip in some plain yogurt and add dark chocolate chip or raisin “eyes” to make banana ghost pops. Or stick small pieces of celery in the tops of mandarin oranges for ‘pumpkins’. Kids love fruit and throwing one of these cute treats in their lunchbox may have them thinking less about the candy and more about Halloween fun.

3. Don’t Focus on Candy. The Calgary area alone is full of fun events: Halloween swims, Boo at the Zoo, or the Haunting Halloween Family Skates. Getting out with the family can be a lot more fun than eating candy. Have teenagers go to scary movies or Screamfest instead of raiding the candy bowl reserved for trick-or-treaters.

4. Make Vegetables Scary: Pumpkins aren’t the only vegetables that are great for carving shapes into. Bell Peppers can have great jack-o-lantern faces carved into them with a knife, then stuffed with quinoa and other nutritional goodies (carrots, spices, tomatoes, etc.) for a healthy dinner. Buy spinach noodles and mix with regular (or sometimes squash noodles are available) for a creepy colorful dinner. Olives work well as ‘eyes’ in pasta or on veggie trays.

5. Try other “Treats”. Stickers and small toys can be just as fun to get as candy, and oftentimes kids will be excited to get something different instead of another type of candy that they might not even like. Focus more on costume preparation and get them excited about that instead of the candy, or make decorations for the house.

Did they still end up eating to much sugar? You can still help your kids and teenagers by: 

1. Letting them Sleep. Halloween falls on a Friday this year so take advantage. Kids oftentimes don’t get enough sleep as is, nor do teenagers (who need about the same amount of sleep as toddlers!). There’s nothing worse for their body than a full night of activities and candy, and then a poor night’s sleep.

2. Participating in the Halloween Candy Buyback: Evan’s Dental in Calgary has the Halloween Buyback, which gives kids $1 for every pound of candy they bring in. Kids and parents can also be entered to win prizes like massages, vitamix blenders, and iPods.

3. Preparing Cleansing Foods:
Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are perfect for helping to balance blood sugar and restore some of the vitamin and mineral loss that may have occurred from eating candy. Prepare soups loaded with vegetables to help stave off colds and keep their immunity up.
4. Repairing gut flora: last month we discussed how gut flora could influence food choices and impact our health. Have kids take probiotics (any brand is okay, but make sure its refrigerated) to get their intestinal tract back in top shape and get them craving the foods that are great for them again.

5. Visiting a Farmer’s Market: place the focus back on fall again. Get kids thinking about their food choices; fall is a great time of year because so many great fruits and vegetables are in season and a lot of them can be palatable to kids who are used to junk food. For example, many types of squash can be delicate-tasting and sweet enough to satisfy their want for sugar.

 Halloween should be about having fun, and it doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy! Check out our Facebook page for our FREE bimonthly cooking classes that discuss wholesome, delicious treats that aren’t full of sugar! 

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