Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween: To Treat or Not to Treat?

I don't know what to think about halloween anymore. When I was a kid, halloween was all about collecting as much candy from my neighbours that could fit in a large pillowcase and then, if there was time, go out for more. I remember one year I acheived a pillowcase-and-a-half, and it only took me a month to consume it all..... oh my.... (That's one of the reasons my cat's name was Candy). Yes, I was a typical child: I liked sugar and (I think) it brought me much joy.

Today I don't even like candy (my favorite used to sour soothers... not chocolate). In fact, I was in Target this afternoon purchasing a few things for my dissertation project, and marveled at the plethora of sugar-laden goodies available for a cheap price. I knew that all that candy was going to be given out tonight to eager children holding their pillowcases (or jack-o-latern candy bins), and they were going to love it.

My puzzlement with this whole holiday, is why did it turn into a candy and junk food feast? Should we really being encouraging children to eat more sugar and gawd-knows-what in such volumes? Is this really a good idea considering that most kids have body weight issues and attention-deficit disorders that are only exasperated by sugar? Yes, candy tastes good and kids should be allowed to eat it if they really want to because when they grow up, they can figure out if it's really good for them or not. (For me, I just knew candy was the pavement for the road to diabetes and excess body fat, so I choose not to eat it at all... really, at all.)

My current neighbourhood doesn't get any candy-grabbing monsters knocking at the door, but if they did, I wouldn't be like everyone else and hand out mini-chocolate bars. Instead, I'd offer small packets of raisins, or, if there weren't too many visitors expected, some healthy snack bar, such as a Larabar or a BeNaturals bar (fruit and nuts bar). I'd love to be able to give out fresh apples but there's the scare every parent has of razon blades shoved in the apples, or bags of cashews, almonds or walnuts, but again, peanut allergy-scares would cause them to become garbage.

What are you going to do this halloween? Are you giving out candy or do you have another better option for our insulin-spiked kids?

NOTE: My dissertation feeding study is going great. I've started the second week and my participants love to food and are impressed by my cooking skills. This project is definitely A LOT of work, but I'm so happy to be doing it. I'll keep you posted when I get partial data.