So as most of you are painfully aware, Halloween is coming up on Saturday. I'm getting inundated with healthful tips from all sides - from my trainer on Facebook (who calls for an all-out boycott of the candy-fest), to e-newsletters about weight loss and maintenance (filling us in on the caloric horrors that await us at every turn), to posts on enviro-blogs (suggesting ways to "green" up the holiday). That's not to mention the kid-generated hysteria that's swirling around.
Another mom asked me this week what "I was going to do about Halloween," and I realized that she probably thought that I was going to come up with some creative ideas for her about how to deal with all the candy and unhealthiness of the whole deal. I'm sure I disappointed her. I'll tell you what I told her. This Halloween will be no different than any other: I'm going to seek to studiously avoid emptying the candy bucket while we allow L. to trick-or-treat her heart out and to eat too much candy that night, and maybe the next day, too.
No, I'm not handing out stickers, or popcorn, or organic or natural anything. Our candy is going to be artificially colored and flavored. Can you believe it?
It's really not so odd, and there is a method to my madness. Despite the healthy recipes I put up here, and my commitment to cooking and eating whole foods and to exercising my body every day, I also preach moderation. And that means that a few times a year, we go hog-wild and eat whatever the heck we want, and we enjoy it, darn-it!
This is the tack I take with my kid, and it's a good rule for all of us - candy and other junk foods are "sometimes" foods - they are not "grow foods," in that they have no nutritional value. But they are tasty, and they are fun, and they are definitely OK to incorporate in small amounts into your diet. I allow her treats and the occasional odd-request to have Ritz crackers or Cheez-Its for breakfast. I haven't put a lot of limits on food, in the hope that she would start to be able to moderate and to make her own, wise choices about what she eats. Just like we grownups should do, right? She is, after all, an adult-in-training.
So what we're left with is a kid who sometimes has a peppermint candy before dinner . . . but NOT with a kid who obsesses about candy and junk, the way I did when I was a kid. My parents were very strict about junk food and empty calories, and woo-hoo! When I got out of that house, whoa-Nelly, there wasn't a box of Cap'n Crunch (with Crunchberries, thankyouverymuch) left on the shelves of my local market. Even now, when I get to eating bite-sized candies or something, I have to do a lot of self-talk to quit feeling like they're a once-in-a-lifetime indulgence (it goes like this "you know, you can go up the street and buy a candy bar any day of the week!"). Seriously - it borders on ridiculous.
All this business of cancelled bake sales and banning Halloween candy is not teaching our kids to moderate themselves and to make good choices down the road. Instead, it's turning candy and treats into the ultimate forbidden fruit . . . and we all know how that goes down in the end. We need to educate kids as to why it's not great to fill up on junk, about what it does to a body and a mind, and then once they're equipped, hope that they make good choices for themselves when we're not around to help out. Just like crossing the street.
So how 'bout you? What are you going to "do about" Halloween? Do you indulge? Abstain? What are your favorite treats? Are there some homemade goodies you'd like to tell us about? Not me - mine all come plastic-wrapped with pre-printed labels. I'm a sucker for mini Butterfinger, Snickers and Three Musketeers, I can hardly ever turn down a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup . . . .