Keeping Kids Healthy this Halloween
As a parent, I've always hated the expectations that come at this time of year ~ trick or treat, gather as much candy, chips, junk food as possible and then eat it as fast as you can. I'm not sure where this tradition came from but somehow every holiday we celebrate nowadays seems to be accompanied with un-healthy chocolate and sweet treats.
This wreaks havoc on the sensitive digestive systems of our little ones. Fortunately, there are some things we can do to help our kids stay healthy despite the influx of sugar entering their blood streams at this time. Follow these tips and tricks and your kid’s tummies will thank you.
1. Make an agreement with your kids that while they are eating up their stash of Halloween candy, they will refrain from drinking any sugary drinks. This includes fruit juices, pop, iced tea, and anything else with added sugar. Remember that sugar on a label can read like fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, lactose, galactose ~ are you seeing the pattern? They all end in “ose.” You may also see various sugars and syrups listed on the label that cover almost 30 solid or granulated sugars and over 20 added liquid sugars. Become a label reader!
Replace these with good, old-fashioned water. H2O may not taste great at first, especially if your children are used to sweetened beverages, but its crucial is maintaining homeostasis and health. Feel free to add a squirt of lemon or lime (many kids like the sour taste) or some cucumber, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, or anything else you can think of to add a splash of flavour without diminishing the integrity of the water. Always choose pure spring water or filtered water when possible. If all you have available is tap water, you can bless it before consuming. Science has proven that good intentions can actually purify your beverage.
2. If not already supplementing your children’s diet, now would be an ideal time to add some whole food vitamins and minerals. Research some companies and choose the best one you can find that is within your budget. Most of us are not eating a perfect diet and even if eating organic, the soil is more depleted than ever before, and today’s food is not as nutritious as what our ancestors enjoyed. Adding some of the basic micronutrients through supplementation is a great way to fortify the body to work at optimal levels despite the sugar assault it may be going through due to the addition of Halloween candies.
3. Add good quality probiotics to maintain a healthy microbiome. Did you know that a high percentage of our immune system lives in the gut? We’re talking 70-90%! There are some excellent children’s probiotics available on the market that will ensure that the less-than-ideal diet they may be temporarily consuming does minimal harm to their internal flora balance. A clear gut is also associated with a clear brain – think better ability to focus at school. What parent wouldn’t want that?
4. Ensure your child is consuming a mainly healthy diet throughout the day of whole food macronutrients. Starchy vegetables are a better source of carbohydrates than breads and cereals. They also need a sufficient amount of protein and good fats to help curb the cravings for sugar. Many food cravings are related to mineral deficiencies so following step #2 will also aid your kids to not reach for too many sweet snacks. Keep an abundance of fruits and veggies in the house and offer them to your child/children often. The more they fill up on whole foods, the less they will want the processed, packaged stuff.
5. Limit his/her candy intake. At the end of the day, you’re the adult who is responsible for the wellbeing of your kids, including their health. I’ve had many days of pouting and anger expressed by my son as I took charge and rationed his candy intake for weeks following Halloween. Sugar is as highly addictive as cocaine in the body!!! It also lowers the immune system immediately and for several hours after consumption. Don’t take my word for it – do your own research. Once you realize the consequences of this substance, you’ll be more apt to do what you can to keep your children away from it for the most part.
6. Encourage your children to pay close attention to how they feel when they eat sweets and candies vs. when they don’t. Most children are very sensitive and can distinguish the difference that too much sugar will have on their body, mood and energy. It was a moment of pride the first time my son politely turned down birthday cake or when he didn’t finish something because it was “too sweet” for his taste buds. He’s learned over the years how hyper he gets after eating sugar and then how the crash feels once the sugar wears off. Although he still enjoys the sweeter treats of life from time to time, he’s starting to make better choices about what he eats and how much he consumes.
These are just a few ideas you may consider trying to help your family get through this Halloween season with ease and grace. I believe in moderation. I allow my son to have some junk food from time to time, yet I’m sure to emphasize the importance of good building blocks (healthy food) to build a strong and healthy body. Kids, for the most part, have an innate intelligence and strong connection to their body. When the temptation of candies and sugar laden foods are taken away from them, they will be more than happy to sustain themselves on the natural sweetness of whole fruits, dried fruits, certain vegetables and more.