“Healthy” Halloween?

candyThe American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day for men, and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women. The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 – 25 grams) per day.

Why?  Dr. Mercola states, “The main problem with sugar, and processed fructose in particular, is the fact that your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize it. According to Dr. Lustig, you can safely metabolize about six teaspoons of added sugar per day. As mentioned, the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day. All that excess sugar is metabolized into body fat, and leads to all of the chronic metabolic diseases we struggle with, including but not limited to: Type 2 diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Hypertension (high blood pressure), Dementia, Cancer.”  Our body struggles to process it.

Though some professionals disagree, it’s not just the fat type, calories and sugar numbers that makes something healthy.  It’s the ingredients – where did the fat come from?  What kind of sugar?  And what else is in there that is simply not food?

Greenopedia says it harshly but well, “Yes, candy made from truly natural ingredients can still lead to cavities and sugar-related health issues. But at the very least, these healthier ingredients are safer than the artificial junk found in traditional candy. Natural candy also tastes just as good, if not better, than the harmful crap.  Next time you or the kids have a sugar craving, try some healthier versions of your favorite candy and see if you can tell the difference. You may have trouble finding healthier candy at your regular supermarket, but you should have no problem finding it in a health food store or online.”

So Halloween…. Where we consume much more sugar than usual.  What is wrong with indulging, bingeing just once a year?  Nothing really.  But the holiday stretches much further than one day, it trains our children that candy is GOD and it tempts the adults – feeding the addiction that does not release us from a path of sickness.  The plus side of this is it is a great opportunity to educate ourselves and our children on better choices while STILL indulging!

THERE ARE WAYS TO INDULGE AND ENJOY WITHOUT MAKING US SICK!

If you are looking for “healthier sugar” (I use quotations because health is a vague term with LOTS of disagreements) options for this Halloween here are some ideas.

First, read ingredient labels.  Avoid: high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, food coloring (these first three are the ones my family noticeably responds to), soy, GMOs (buy organic!), artificial ingredients, or ideally any generic terms like “natural flavors”.  This is a lot and near impossible when it comes to candy.  If you are gluten or dairy free there are even more ingredients to watch for!  Yikes!

I went through all the candy in the local grocery stores for you… well most of it.  Here are my suggestions for a “healthier” lower sugar Halloween, another words, I’d let my kids eat this stuff (we do gluten tolerably) though one serving of these is their total daily limit for sugar:

  1. Sundrops over M&Ms or Skittles
  2. Fair Trade Dark Chocolate – there are lots of choices. (Most chocolate candy, it turns out, is better than any other candy, ingredient-wise and sugar-wise. Most Hershey products have a low list of ingredients).  I have to say I dislike chocolate for its caffeine – it is also addictive.  I prefer carob – but good luck finding it in packaged products!
  3. Organic suckers (Yummy Organic makes some) over Dum Dum suckers or Tootsie pops.
  4. Surf Sweets Gummy Gears over any other gummies.
  5. Just because it has peanuts in it does NOT make it a good option. Brachs Double Dipped Peanuts are great though!
  6. For Peanut Butter Cups (these are my favorite, but Reese’s is disgusting) try Newman’s Own or Theo.
  7. Granola bars make me angry. There are none on the market that I consider good.  Oskri brand (found at our food co-op here in town) makes some bars that use rice syrup, coconut and real fruit, and Pure Bars use dates!  Both of their consistencies are not your typical granola bar texture though.
  8. Panda Licorice products uses molasses as a sweetener!
  9. Go Organic hard candies are low in sugar and have decent ingredients.

If looking to avoid sugar all together for Halloween – you deserve an award.  We all know it isn’t good, even if it is just on special occasions – let’s set an example! Here are some no sugar options

  1. Fruit juice or date sweetened foods or dates like Clif Zfruit Ropes. My kids LOVE these.
  2. Fruits and nuts: boxes of raisins, trail mix (minus the chocolate if you can but watch the dried fruit for lots of sugar!), 100% juice boxes
  3. Bottles of water
  4. Non-candy foods: Cheese Sticks, Goldfish (whole wheat) Crackers, Pretzels
  5. Novelties – bead necklaces, glow in the dark sticks, stickers, pencils, little critters, costume stuff (fang teeth), PlayDoh, bouncy balls, play coins, bubbles
  6. Toothbrushes!

I hope this information encourages you to make thoughtful choices any time of the year in the health of you and your family.  However you move forward this Halloween I hope you have fun and feel great.  Boo!

 

 

 

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