Long gone are the days when young trick-or-treaters would go door to door to get fruit and popcorn from their neighbors. Instead, Halloween is now all about how much candy and other sugar-filled, unhealthy items children can collect and consume in the shortest amount of time.
Halloween is a fun holiday and should consist of some candy and treat consumption but it’s important to monitor this. Nutrition experts (and dentists) cringe every time October 31 rolls around, but this year parents can not only do their part in giving out healthier treats, but they can also be sure to monitor what their children are eating, too.
We all know that too much sugar is bad for anyone, but do we know what effects too much sugar can have on our children? Nutrition experts offer the following points:
Children that consume too much sugar and too many carbs can suffer from hypoglycemia causing fatigue, poor concentration, mood swings and frequent illness.
Too many “empty calories” can mean that children aren’t getting the nutrients they need on a daily basis.
A new diabetic is diagnosed every 8 minutes, a threefold increase in the past 5 to 6 years when a new diabetic was diagnosed every 23 minutes.
Recent research has shown that more than 20% of school-aged children are obese and more than 50% are overweight.
Too much sugar can cause chronically elevated blood insulin levels triggering inflammatory problems and elevated cholesterol.
Now don’t get us wrong, this Halloween doesn’t have to be all “doom and gloom” when it comes to having a few treats. Parents need to be very careful in monitoring what their child puts into their mouth and how often they are turning to sugary items.
Ration the sugary products over a longer period of time and incorporate them with a protein snack. Having a protein, especially before the sugar snack, will slow and reduce the rate and quantity of insulin secreted by the pancreas, thereby reducing many of the risks stated above.
According to MSNBC.com you can also try some more healthy Halloween treat alternatives that still have great taste without all the sugar and fat. You can make your own healthful Halloween treats and contribute to a healthier Halloween for all of the little goblins in your neighborhood without sacrificing taste or fun.
Start by replacing up to half of the butter, margarine or shortening with heart healthy oils, such as canola or olive oil. Be careful though, cookies that use oil instead of butter often end up crispier and run the risk of drying out sooner so make sure to store them in airtight containers.
Try a fruit puree like applesauce, pear butter, prune filling or canned pumpkin. Using fruit puree in place of fat will produce cookies that are cakier and chewier.
You can also reduce fat in cookies by using nonfat yogurt or buttermilk instead of more traditional ingredients. This helps maintain moisture without the fat content. Try using 1 to 4 tablespoons of any of these ingredients to replace up to 4 tablespoons of butter.
Here is to a Healthy and Happy Halloween!