Have a Happy, Healthy (?) Halloween

Halloween and healthy are not two words you would usually associate with one another. Halloween and overflowing bags of sugar, on the other hand…

Growing up, my Halloween followed a very particular routine. On All Hallow’s Eve, I would gorge myself with candy until it was time for bed, and then the rest of my candy would be judiciously consumed at a rate of approximately two-three mini candy bars per day. This was a fair ruling on how candy would be dispensed, and I still think my parents had one of the best ideas around. They didn’t deny me the “I ate too much candy” experience, and because I knew how painful it could be to eat twelve miniature Twix candy bars in a row, I didn’t care to repeat the experience until the next year.

Are you going to finish that? (Image Credit:http://www.myscienceproject.org/trick.html)

My friends had different experiences. Some gorged themselves on candy for a few days until their horde was entirely depleted. A few notable others ate all their candy while trick-or-treating, making the experience into a walking buffet. But the friend I always felt the worst for was Maggie (name changed to protect the deprived).

Maggie was the only girl in pre-kindergarten who dabbed the grease off her pizza. She talked about “calories” and worried about her appearance in a way that I would have to wait ten years for. It might be easy to argue that Maggie was only health conscious, but her parents were also a little over the top. Case and point, Maggie was not allowed to eat candy at Halloween. Maggie trick-or-treated for Unicef and any candy she got had to be surrendered at the end of the night to her parents. Maybe they were just being protective: after all, we all know the kinds of things that people can do to Halloween candy. But Maggie’s parents did nothing to replace her stolen goods. The day after Halloween, Maggie came to school with the same lunch she always did, with an apple for dessert. The rest of us traded candy bars and other candies, but Maggie looked demurely down at her apple and didn’t participate.

I would never have known that Maggie minded about her healthy regimen except that I caught her. Before and after lunch, we had recess, and I found her crouched in a corner, surrounded by candy wrappers. Maggie confessed that she hid some of her candy from her parents, and had managed to get it to school hidden in her backpack. Maggie’s issues with food continued through junior high, when she moved away, but it taught me an important lesson.

Even if you want your kids to grow up healthy adults, you still need to let them indulge sometimes. Otherwise, they won’t have the ability to make smart decisions and understand the importance of moderation when eating. So rather than refusing candy, find a compromise both you and your child can live with.


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