Some parents assume that healthy eating means depriving their kids of the birthday and holiday traditions that help define childhood. They’re wrong. While it might cost a few extra bucks and you may have to look a little harder, there are responsible companies out there who aim to meet the demands of those of who us who aren’t OK with knowingly putting carcinogens in our kids’ bodies.
My son goes trick-or-treating every year and will continue to but on my terms since I’m the parent. He knows what candy is but also understands that my wife and I control the distribution. From his first Halloween we instilled that the holiday is more about getting dressed up and going to door-to-door through the neighborhood. We hit about 10 houses and then head home, where he trades in the candy he collected for some less-bad alternatives. We usually offer him three pieces, which is more than enough to satisfy. Since we keep sugar intake to minimum throughout the year, he doesn’t crave it and his body doesn’t expect it. Honestly, if we gave him a bite of Kit Kat or some Skittles he’d probably find them disgusting and spit them right out. I know I would. Here’s what we’re going with instead this year:
These are just the right size and boast a short list of ingredients you can actually pronounce, including coconut, which provides a host of established health benefits. They’re low calorie, have only three grams of sugar per piece, and, since some of the sweetness comes from all-natural monk fruit, there’s not nearly as dramatic a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels.
My wife periodically makes homemade fruit “roll-ups” using a dehydrator or low-temperature oven and involves our son in the process – a strategy that we’ve found to be highly effective in terms of enthusiasm for and adherence to our chosen way of eating. In a pinch, however, it’s great to see a similar but more convenient option and without added dyes and sugar. Just fruit. We opt for the company’s organic version to avoid synthetic pesticides and the cancer-causing chemicals they contain.
If you go into it expecting Reese’s, you’ll be quite disappointed. In fact, there’s no peanut butter in it at all. That’s what I like about it. No peanut butter means no cancer-promoting aflatoxin; no gut-damaging lectins and the allergy-like symptoms they can cause; no nutrient-blocking phytic acid; no inflammatory, atherogenic omega-6 fatty acids. Instead, you’ll find simple, health-promoting ingredients like immune-boosting coconut and antioxidant-rich cacao.
They’re available in more exciting varieties – Caramel and Sea Salt, Banana Cream – but those flavors have higher sugar counts so we stick with Original.
There are many other options out there and more being introduced each year, as demand for healthier snacks increases. If you’ve got the extra time to devote, consider making your own Halloween treats. I recently used this recipe for Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Fat Bombs from The Castaway Kitchen. It’s basically a truffle but made with some superfood ingredients. Like the products mentioned above, these are so filling that overeating is never a concern – the essence of a ketogenic diet and why it’s so effective for so many folks.
My best piece of advice to a currently-childless couple planning to get pregnant in the near future is this: get healthy now, before the kid comes along. Have the routines and habits in place that you want them to model. This was the best decision my wife and I made. It’s obviously much easier to shape taste preferences at a young age and there’s even evidence that the process begins in the womb.
But you can’t go back in a time machine. I sympathize with parents attempting to convert their kids to healthy eating a later stage. My wife and I sometimes encounter resistance from our son but we’re so committed to the goal that we’ll use nearly any means – bribes, trickery – to achieve the desired result. It’s that important to us to get good stuff in his body and to stave off a scary diagnosis for him and for our grandkids.
Please don’t be one of those parents who automatically assumes their kid won’t like a healthier treat. How do you know if you don’t try? It’s worth the effort. We’re facing a child health crisis right now. Rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and cancer are going up and, if current trends continue, today’s children are on track to die at an earlier age than their parents! That’s unacceptable. The solution will need to be multi pronged but swapping sugar-laden treats for something less processed – even on an occasional basis – is a step in the right direction. And one that might prove to be easier than you previously thought.