About 200 kids trudge, skip, jump or run up my driveway during Beggar’s Night, aka Halloween Trick or Treat. Skeletons and ghosts, princesses and witches, cowboys and angels show up to fill their bags with treats.
Some parents are amazed when they realize that the local nutrition expert and columnist hands out fun size candy bars and pops with bubble gum inside. What do they expect chocolate covered kale?
My philosophy has always been about moderation, balance, restraint, and control. Each year, more and more children are becoming obese: in fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 15% of children ages 6 to 18 are overweight. A few small candy bars will not cause obesity; moderation is the key.
It is always a treat for me to see so many people walking in my neighborhood. Entire families, including grandparents, stroll my street. Food energizes the body to move. Obesity occurs without adequate movement and too much food.
A simple step, such as, reducing sugar intake is an easy way to help curb the obesity epidemic. If parents can make just one rule in their house concerning Halloween candy it should be this: No candy in front of anything digital or electronic.
That means that candy will not be consumed while watching television or playing video games. Parents, this rule should apply to you also, munching on your kid’s candy while at the computer should be forbidden.
Candy bars eaten while walking or bicycling do not count as calories in my book. They are used by the body for energy almost immediately. Go ahead and enjoy the feel of soft sweet nougat on your tongue or the happy crunch of sugar-coated nuts while moving your feet.
Walking, stretching, bending, and moving the body produce a happy reaction called endorphin release. The best way to keep that feel-good feeling flowing though the body is to increase the movement of muscles.
Licorice and jelly beans, toffee and fluff, hard tack and taffy are treats meant to be enjoyed. They soothe your soul as well as fuel your body. Eating more candy than needed only stores fuel on parts of the body that are already overflowing with abundance. Eating more than needed does not store the feel-good feeling of a piece of candy.
While passing out Halloween candy I am always surprised by parents driving the kids from one house to the next. Now this may be acceptable on a rural lane but on a busy neighborhood street where the houses are only 20-40 feet apart, this is unnecessary unless someone has a disability.
The best part of Halloween may not be the candy at all. It is the movement of the legs and feet, arms and hands, head and body that make this holiday such a happy family experience.
Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]