Guest Blogger: Fed Up With Halloween

I am very excited to be a guest blogger for Fed Up With Lunch.  My name is Dave Soleil and I am a stay-at-home dad in Georgia where childhood obesity is the second highest in the nation.  Last year on Halloween, I got fed up too.

As children in the neighborhood made the annual rounds to trick-or-treat, I saw kids with pillow cases three-quarters packed with candy.  I saw overweight parents driving cars along side their children because their condition made it too difficult to walk around the neighborhood.  I heard stories of children attending multiple pre-Halloween “trunk-or-treat” events hosted by various youth organizations.  I also talked with health-conscious neighbors who were too embarrassed to let their kids trick-or-treat because the day focused entirely on binge eating candy.

As I dropped another box of raisins into a vast sea of candy, I felt alone and ashamed of the unhealthy environment we had created for our children.  I decided then that I would dedicate myself to creating the healthy world that our kids deserve.

I wanted to bring communities together to raise awareness about childhood obesity and I wanted it to happen quickly like… a flash mob.  So, The Movement was born. The Flash Mob for Healthier Kids will take place during the week of Halloween, Oct. 24th – 31st.  Flash mobs will perform in towns and cities around the country in support of healthier kids.  The Rockstar Nutritionist, Jill Jayne is providing great music and choreography.  You pick the time and place that works for you and send us the video which we will edit together with all the other flash mobs videos.  Whether you are three people or three thousand people, we want you to use this opportunity to bring people and organizations together in support of healthier kids.

In addition to The Movement, we are also launching Healthy Halloween House.  Our web site has a parents’ pledge and many healthy and non-food trick-or-treat alternatives.  Our pledge is:

“As a Healthy Halloween House, I pledge to provide a Trick-or-Treat alternative for kids that is not candy or junk food.  I believe we can create a healthier world for our kids that strengthens our community without contributing to the epidemic of childhood obesity.”

We are also offering Healthy Halloween House signs as a free download or as yard signs at cost.  We are even encouraging neighborhoods to try and get more than 50% participation to become a Healthy Halloween Neighborhood!

According to the CDC, kids born after the year 2000 are predicted to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.  However, I don’t believe in probabilities.  I believe in possibilities.  We can create a healthier world for our kids.  It is time to provide fun and thoughtful alternatives year round that don’t make our kids sick.  I hope you will join us and help spread the word.

As I like to say, “Eat your pumpkin.  Let your candy rot on the porch.”

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57 Responses to Guest Blogger: Fed Up With Halloween

  1. John October 18, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    I always feel conflicted at Halloween because I share a lot of the same feelings that you do, but it was always my favorite holiday as a child. Some of the strategies I use to try and come to terms with trick-or-treating are to stay in my own neighborhood (instead of flocking to richer neighborhoods that give out more/bigger candy), avoid things like the “trunk or treat” you mention, and finally at the end of the night we let our kids pick out a small amount of candy and buy the rest from them. They get to buy toys or books, and we throw out the excess or I give it to coworkers who are old enough to make their own decisions about health.

  2. Cindy October 18, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    I’m torn on this one too. My kids don’t get nearly the amount of candy that I got as a child and they love it so much. Who wouldn’t? What I yearn for is that Halloween as a truly exceptional day where children are allowed to proceed with abandon. I think the rest of the year has become too infested with sugar. If giant bags of candy only happened once a year, it would make Halloween more fun and we’d have healthier kids.

  3. melpy October 18, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    I don’t have children but I am a teacher who refuses to give out candy as a reward (technically food rewards are prohibited but there are plenty of teachers who break this rule). This year I have decided not to participate in Halloween due to schedule conflicts but I have been torn about the whole “candy giving” in the first place. I think that Halloween can be fun, dressing up and taking a walk are fun and healthy activities.

    I think it comes down to having very specific guidelines for your children. Obviously the safety rules like not eating candy that hasn’t been checked by a parent is crucial. We didn’t even really get to see the candy until it had all been checked. I think that parents can use this as the first line of defense to get rid of some unwanted candy. My mother would give out the leftovers to the last few people who came to the house. Limiting the number of houses you go to is another good idea. Our favorite part was swapping candy at the end of the night. We were allowed to keep some of it and we were limited how much we coudl eat a day. I think we were allowed one to two pieces a day depending on size of candy and age of child. I know parents don’t want to be the bad guy but promoting healthy habits and putting your foot down is necessary once in a while.

  4. Julie October 18, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    I’m all for healthy Halloween but how do you get kids to eat the raisins? You know they will just throw them away. Did anyone ever eat the apples they were given on Halloween? I’d love to bake something but their parents would be afraid there was a razor blade inside. Then there is the matter of revenge. If I tried to give raisins I would find in the morning my house has been TP’d and then there is the matter of the belligerent expression on the kids face when you try to give them a pack of raisins. The best I could do is just not be home. Hopefully they won’t destroy anything while I’m gone.

    • John October 18, 2011 at 11:24 am #

      I always hated the raisins. Not because they weren’t candy, just because they were raisins. It’s a shame, though, that baking is no longer socially acceptable, because the razor thing didn’t really happen (I mean, I think something like it happened once, but there wasn’t an epedemic like it’s portrayed.) When I was little I used to look forward to this one lady’s house that always had popcorn balls.

      • Stacy October 19, 2011 at 10:50 am #

        I too had a lady on your Halloween route who gave out homemade popcorn balls and they were wonderful! Shame we now are scared to accept homemade goodies. Last year my kids received cans of soda. We do not allow our children to drink soda unless special occasion (movie theater) so we are automatically the bad guy when we take their “treat” away.

        • Dawn October 20, 2011 at 8:23 am #

          “Last year my kids received cans of soda. We do not allow our children to drink soda unless special occasion (movie theater) so we are automatically the bad guy when we take their “treat” away.”

          Considering Halloween is only one night a year, why not let them have the soda? One can of soda is not going to kill the child.

      • Uly October 19, 2011 at 10:52 am #

        Actually, razors did happen more than once (typically as a prank, though) but – and this is crucial! – nobody was ever injured by them because they all saw the razor or needle or whatever before they could bite them.

        Poisoning, however, never happened. Not random poisoning. There was one guy who wanted to kill his own kids, and another family that covered up a kid getting into his uncle’s stash of heroin, but that’s about it.

    • Fezeka Saige October 27, 2011 at 7:50 am #

      Julie, that just cracked me up. I guess I was thinking the same thing so when I read your post it really resonated. We live in a small neighborhood and my biggest mistake is buying too much candy and having it left over. The main problem is we are usually out trick-o-treating ourselves and there is nobody to hand out our candy.

      I think I will buy one bag of good candy and limit the kids to taking 2 pieces each. For my kids, once they fill their bag (which is usually small) then we are done. I really don’t want to spoil the holiday but limits are a good thing!

  5. JoAnn October 18, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Maybe the candy isn’t the biggest part of the problem…I feel that so much of it is parenting. I mean, these kids aren’t taking themselves trick or treating, or to community events (At least mine aren’t…maybe I am naive). Why not say it’s time to go home when the bag is half full? Or let the kids eat what they want for 2 days and then make the candy disappear? Or don’t go out to 3 different neighborhoods and then the mall to get more candy. And of course, there is always the 6 week old in a stroller, so mom and dad can eat the candy! But then again, it’s easier to just blame the sugar. Sugar doesn’t have any feelings that are going to get hurt when you tell it that it’s all it’s fault.

    • Lucy October 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

      .I don’t think it is necessarily the all the candies fault either… We still had left over halloween candy in the spring….
      It is teaching your kids control. We let them have a few that night (or more then a few) it is fun! The for the next couple of nights they can pick 1 or 2 candies only as a treat after dinner. (the key is…candy stays out of sight) and really by end of the week it is pretty much forgotten..,
      You as a parent have to set an example of how to control your self and the kids will follow 🙂

      • Dawn October 20, 2011 at 8:27 am #

        Finally a few people with more sense on this. It’s sickening that parents would rather whine about candy than be proper parents. I was only allowed to trick or treat around the block….meaning I got one small bag of candy. Since I’ve never had a huge sweet tooth, I was allowed to keep it since it was going to take me months to finish it. Yes the first night I probably had five or ten pieces since heck it’s one day a year that adults handed me candy! I don’t believe it harmed me since I am still the same way. I’ll get a bag of candy for my house occasionally and normally I’ll have to toss a third of it when I notice it’s still sitting there from six months ago.

  6. Liz October 18, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    I’m all for a healthier Halloween, but l still think my kids should get to be kids. (Maybe that’s an unpopular sentiment. Oh, well.) They eat healthy on a regular basis. And on Halloween their candy consumption is limited. After Halloween we go through their candy and pull out the bulk, which my husband takes to his office. (He works with college students.) Then our kids are allowed to choose one or two pieces after lunch or dinner every day until it is gone. Moderation is the key.
    Also, if you don’t want to give out healthy food, why not give out non-consumable items. For instance, this year we are giving out spider rings and other things like that.

    • My Kids Mom October 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

      I was totally with you here until you said “non consumables” like “spider rings.” I think I prefer the candy. At least when it gets tossed out it will decompose. The plastic crap just accumulates around my house because I hate throwing it away.

      My kids (7&10) will trick or treat around the block. They will stop before they think they are ready but after I think they have too much candy. They will gorge on it that night and then eat 1-2 pieces a day until either it is gone or I’ve “helped it” disappear.

      Moderation, absolutely.

  7. Michelle October 18, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    When I was a kid, I always had to give my loot to my parents to look through (checking for those razorblades, after all), at which point they would let me pick out a couple pieces to eat. They generally kept it in a place where I couldn’t get at it without asking for permission first. It was given out bit by bit, and when it reached a point where only the “yucky” candy was left, it would get tossed. When I have kids, this is a system I’d probably use as well, because it encourages moderation but doesn’t completely eliminate the fun of candy on Halloween.

  8. Velicia October 18, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    I can’t help but remember how much I hated receiving fruit in my Halloween basket as a child, which although I’ve always liked fruit, did not get eaten amid the other treats. However, as some others mentioned, I was also limited by my parents as to how much Halloween candy I could eat at once, and during the rest of the year my parents also limited my junk food intake and provided healthy foods regularly. I don’t think the problem is Halloween so much as many children are given too much fat, salt and sugar to eat throughout the year.

  9. beantownprepster October 18, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Somehow I don’t think that one day devoted to candy is the root cause of childhood obesity. Perhaps one should focus on 365 of healthy eating to allow for one day of overboard candy consumption. I think the whole “healthy halloween” movement is a bit preachy and ridiculous. Kids should be allowed to enjoy and appreciate a fun American tradition. Furthermore, even if there are children who end up with pillowcases full of candy, they should be taught to portion it out and enjoy it as a treat. I, most certainly, will be doling out my bags of fun size candy with a smile and a “Happy Halloween” to every child.

    • Liz October 20, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      I couldn’t have said it better.

  10. Lisa Leake October 18, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    We are absolutely on board with not giving out candy this Halloween BUT we are also not planning on handing out raisins or apples. There are so many other fun ways to celebrate Halloween, which I shared on our “20 ways to do Halloween without candy” blog post http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/10/07/real-food-tips-20-ways-to-do-halloween-without-candy/. Also, I think the biggest problem is that Halloween is no longer one of the few special occasions where my kids are offered candy and sweets. They also get them for every kid’s birthday in their class, school events and rewards, good behavior from their teacher, sporting events, playdates, parties with friends, as well as all the other holidays throughout the year including the entire month of December. If it was just Halloween that would be one thing, but unfortunately it is not and in the end the amount of junk food that our precious children are getting is overkill! There are just too many other non-food (or non-junk food) related ways to excite and reward young children for us to continue to allow them to eat this much processed and artificial “food.” Just my two cents!

    • Joan Collins October 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

      Amen Lisa. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  11. Catherine October 18, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Childhood obesity is a day to day problem, not a Halloween issue. If you want to make Halloween into an obesity awareness day, then get together some stats about childhood obesity and how unhealthy processed food is, etc. Halloween is not the problem, American parenting and the SAD diet for the whole year is the problem. My 4.5yo eats healthy everyday, a few days of candy will not make him fat or ill. I did decide to hand out Halloween themed erasers and small toys, etc, this year But only because he has multiple food allergies and cannot eat any treat handed out anywhere. The thing I’ve learned from his food allergies is that the American culture is too obsessed with food. We cannot meet up for an hour without bringing snacks. There was a boy on his soccer team, who ate through the whole hour every week. It was only about 50mins really (with multiple water breaks). We don’t need to every minute of everyday.

    My son and I will go trick or treating this year and I will give him a few pieces of safe candy (that I brought with us) while we are out. Then I trade him his candy for a toy (when he gets older, I may buy it with cash and let him go shopping). I take all his candy into work for my co-workers. Win, Win, Win.

    P.S. my son loves the houses that hand out temporary tattoos 🙂

  12. Jessica October 18, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I’m giving out small change in recycled easter eggs, held closed with halloween stickers. Yeah, they’ll probably just use it to buy candy. But at least there is the possibility they will buy something more virtuous.

  13. Max Greiner October 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    ONE day out of 365 makes our kids obese? Really? Maybe God anointed you supervisor of childhood eating habits, I know for a fact that I was not anointed the candy police, that I was not given authority to monitor other people’s children, but that I am responsible for MY children only. I am responsible for my children … I, not the government, not so-called nutritionists, not do-gooders, and not teachers.
    I have never made a big deal out of candy, have always permitted my children to eat as much as they wanted. Guess what – my (now basically grown) kids are not obese and do not even like candy. I suppose this is because candy was never something exciting to be doled out reluctantly or taken away as punishment.
    Well, have a wonderful Halloween, feeling superior in the knowledge of having made a righteous decision regarding children that are nor your own, but please, keep your politically correct stickers, my family does not want them. I am always happy if people drive their cars into our subdivision. It means that we hand out the best candy. Hooray for Halloween with candy, the way is meant to be.

    • Dawn October 20, 2011 at 8:31 am #

      Amen!

    • Joan Collins October 20, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

      Please see Lisa Leake’s comment. Halloween is not the issue…the 24/7 culture of candy is. If your kids are grown up, they might not have been part of that new normal. 40% of kids in Georgia are overweight or obese and it’s not because parents have become less responsible since your days as a parent of youngsters.

  14. Deena@StayAtHomeFOODIE October 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    I’m conflicted on this one too. I feed by kids healthy meals, but I strongly believe that should have something sweet everyday. http://stayathomefoodie.wordpress.com/foodosoph/

    Halloween is a great opportunity to teach about MODERATION – which is really the first line of defense when it comes to fighting obesity.

    My kids have learned the hard way about “candy belly” — you know, that sick feeling you get when you’ve had too much candy. They now – at 4 and 6 – understand that they can’t eat everything or they will get sick. It’s a great lesson we should all remember.

    They eat a few pieces on Halloween and the rest is put into a small mason jar. (They get to pick which pieces to keep and which to give to a shelter.) They can pull one piece out a day as their “daily sweet”. I find that after 2 or 3 days, they have moved beyond the candy to a homemade cookie.

    The answer to childhood obesity isn’t Halloween. It’s the everyday things that create good, healthy eating habits that will turn this epidemic around.

    In any case, I applaud you for your effort and hope that it gains the traction that you are hoping for.

  15. Jennifer October 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    We don’t give out candy, but it’s more because I don’t want the leftover candy in my house. I have given out Halloween pencils in the past, and the reactions from kids has been interesting. Some rudely express their disappointment with their non-candy treat, but others exclaim things like “Cool, I need school supplies!” This year I may go with the Play Doh Halloween treats in addition to the pencils. (I stock up on pencils at the after-Halloween sales.) And I love the idea of temporary tattoos – fodder for a future year.

  16. Pam October 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    I’m with Catherine. We haven’t taken our kids trick-or-treating due to dietary restriction reasons, but this year we might go for the experience. I heard about the Switch Witch, who is kind of like the Tooth Fairy for Halloween. Kids offer up all their candy from trick-or-treating, and the Switch Witch exchanges it for something more worthwhile like a toy, books, etc. I’ll be giving the candy to my friends, and they can decide what to do with it!

    My kids still can’t have most candies, but we’d like them to be able to participate in trick-or-treating. I always enjoyed Halloween, and I think it can be such a fun experience. Also, my kids actually do like raisins (lol), but when they are limited in what they can have without having adverse reactions, raisins are quite the treat! The Switch Witch might leave those with us should they get any!

  17. Kelly October 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    Halloween isn’t going to change the eating habits of obese children- parents are. I went from house to house for Halloween and got lots of candy, yet I’ve maintained a healthy weight and continue to lead an active lifestyle in my 20’s. Did I eat every piece of candy I gathered up that night? Um… no. My parents got rid of it after a few treats and we moved on. Step up parents. Your child’s health is priority number 1.

  18. Leanne October 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    I found single serving size mmicrowave popcorn, in Halloween colors.
    last year was Halloween pencils and snack packs of pretzels.
    Candy is not a special treat, but an invitation to eternal sugar cravings.
    It will be a challenge, but we have to stand united that we deserve better,
    and even more so for our kids.

    • Joan Collins October 20, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

      Amen Leanne.

    • Erin October 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      Eternal sugar cravings? Kids are born craving sugar, breastmilk is very sweet and most young children will happily eat and drink things that older children and adults consider to be too sweet. Halloween doesn’t make a child obese and denying them experiences with candy and sweets can backfire when they are able to make their own food choices. Halloween is a perfect time to teach self control and moderation, plus it’s a great time to run from house to house and get some good exercise.

      • Dawn October 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

        “Halloween doesn’t make a child obese and denying them experiences with candy and sweets can backfire when they are able to make their own food choices.”

        This has always been my line of thought. At some point, the children will rebel (as teens, in college, etc) against their parents if they are being too strict about nonsense stuff and then will end up eating junk food daily because they never learned moderation.

  19. Kayla October 18, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    I am all for kids eating healthy and making healthy choices, but I feel like kids are almost being bombarded with seminars, activities, and lessons about eating healthy and having a healthy lifestyle. I feel like Halloween is one of the few days left where kids are allowed to just be kids. It’s a day for them to dress up, be silly, and get a mountain of candy (which I think the adult equivalent would be being handed a mountain of 100 dollar bills). I didn’t/don’t know any child who was allowed to eat as much candy as they wanted on Halloween night. It seems like most parents limit how much candy their child can eat a day. I think limiting the candy, and not allowing any other snacking throughout the day balances itself out, especially if you have an active kiddo who isn’t allowed to sit around and watch tv or play video games all day.

  20. Alicia October 18, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    If a parent hands over a large bag of candy to their child and allows her to eat it all whenever she wants on Halloween that parent is not going to care about their child’s nutrition any other day of the year. Halloween and trick-or-treating do not even factor into the “childhood obesity” equation. If Halloween didn’t exist that family would probably, instead, be sitting in front of the TV with a plate of macaroni and cheese made with a 1/2 a cup of butter and whole milk with a regular soda on the side on October 31st. Parents who care about nutrition and such are going to go on a nice long walk with their child, bring home a bag of candy and set limits on this candy, just like they set limits with anything else their child eats. It’s a night of laughter and fun for both child and parent. Who are you to take this away? There is nothing that can be done to “fix” childhood obesity completely because some parents don’t care, don’t have the money or don’t have the time.

  21. Ludicrous Mama October 19, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    http://bitingmyhand.blogspot.com/2010/10/are-you-really-going-to-eat-all-that.html
    Here are some alternatives for all that candy that your kids WILL get. Some of my favorites are Candy Experiments (http://www.candyexperiments.com/ – she even has printable experiment cards you can give out with your treats!) and trading candy for cash at many local dentist/orthodontist offices! (Let the kids pick a few favorite pieces, then sell the rest. Most offer $1/lb, but some offer as much as $2!) And since most of it is still good at Christmas, I confiscate anything that’ll keep and we use some on gingerbread houses and then “Santa” trots some out in her stocking. SHE doesn’t care what colors the wrappers are! We also end up throwing a bunch out.

  22. Stephanie October 19, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    I remember hating getting the raisins as a kid. I’m too young to have ever gotten apples, but I remember the raisins.
    I also remember that my Halloween stash would usually last me through Christmas. My parents would take it from me and allow me 2-3 pieces a day. I never considered that other kids were allowed to eat it all–and I couldn’t understand why they would. Wouldn’t you want to have candy for longer?
    Yes, there are a lot of overweight kids out there. But limiting their sweet treats on the one night they’ve been told they’re allowed to get them? To the kids, that’s just going to be mean. They don’t get what you’re doing. To them, you’re the house to avoid.
    My family has for the past couple years given kids a choice between a toy or a piece of candy. As far as I’ve seen, kids love being allowed a choice, and most actually do tend to pick the toy. (Especially teenagers–they really love Play-do for some reason.) Maybe not every house has to give candy–but I’m still holding my little kid grudge against raisins.

  23. Uly October 19, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Last year I gave out glow bracelets. They were such a huge hit (the novelty factor, no doubt) that I’m doing it again this year!

    • Sara October 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

      now that’s a great idea! i would have been thrilled to get that as a kid 🙂

  24. Marie October 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I don’t give out anything–when my parents were ill, we left the outside light off to indicate Trick and Treaters were supposed to skip our house, just like the police and city council had said. We even drew the drapes so no one would think the light from the living room was the signal. It didn’t make a bit of difference–the door bell rang all during the time period, and when we pointed out the lack of a signal, we got blank looks from both kids and parents. We also heard a lot of kids ask their parents which town they were in or which town they were going to next. In addition, none of us could eat the leftover candy, and for the last few years I have not been working at any office where I can unload it.

    Since then, I have simply planned to go out to dinner or to the local library for those hours. (Except for the night I went to the laundromat because the cat threw up on my bed!)

  25. Vikki October 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    We live out in the country. People would have to drive to get out here, but just in case, I’m getting temp tattoos to give out.

    However, my 14 year old autistic kid wants to trick-or-treat again this year, even tho he’s taller than I am. He’s allergic to corn (so that rules out almost all candies: corn syrup), peanuts, soy and wheat. I liked what I read above so even tho I’ll have a few candies that I know are ok, I’ll let him trick-or-treat as much as he wants. Then the next day, I’ll make him a deal: a new $20 movie for all but maybe 10 pieces of his approved candy.

    Unfortunately, I’ll really have to work hard to not eat the candy myself. Will send it with Hubby to his work.

    Would like to support the movement but I agree with those who said children very rarely get a “free day” for candy. It’s more like (1) parents need to divvy out the candy and (2) parents need to feed their kids healthy every day of every month of every year. Teach them health and responsibility. Allow them to make choices.

    Even tho I will always have to keep my child in my home, I’m teaching him moderation and responsibility. I have peanut butter in the house for me, my son does not even touch the jar. He doesn’t like the way it makes him feel.

    It’s all up to the parents.

  26. Dave Soleil October 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    It is exciting to see all the comments, both in support and against my efforts of Healthy Halloween House. It indicates that people are passionate about the issues which is far preferable to cold indifference and apathy. So, let’s continue the discussion…

    I want to give readers some more context about what I am doing as well as a few things to consider. I think it is important to separate out some of the language in the comments so we can address the issue of childhood obesity directly. Healthy Halloween House is a grassroots movement that is not from the government or anointed by God. We are not taking away anyone’s candy, rights or childhood. Rather, we are a group of ordinary Americans standing in support of parents, families and neighbors who wish to make an alternate choice and create a healthier environment for our kids.

    Given that, I think it is also important to acknowledge two things:

    First, Halloween is a nostalgic time for parents. We all have memories of costume-making with the family, going door-to-door, seeing neighbors and friends, finding the best piece of candy in your bag, and going to haunted houses. We want to give that same nostalgic experience to our kids. Who does not wish to pass on the traditions that we hold close?

    Second, we live in a different world than we grew up in. In a post-9/11 world, no longer will any child find the joy in running off an airplane into grandma’s arms at the gate, no matter how nostalgic. The environment has changed and we have learned to create new ways to connect and bring meaning to our family experiences. We live in a time now where every stranger is seen as a kidnapper and every apple has a razor blade. We don’t know our neighbors and we don’t trust anyone with our kids except those we pay to care for them. Our environment has changed.

    Health-wise, we live in a different world than we grew up in too. According to the National Cancer Institute, three out of four deaths in America are caused by diet-related disease. These diseases are primarily heart disease, cancer, strokes and diabetes. All four of these diseases show up in the top ten causes of death for Americans beginning at age 15 (CDC Health report, 2010). That is not, “my child has high cholesterol or diabetes.” Those are causes of death due to preventable, diet-related illnesses that we can choose to contribute to or not every time a child knocks on our door at Halloween.

    So, many readers are absolutely correct in saying that a single day like Halloween is not the problem. The problem is that every day is Halloween for our kids as they are continually bombarded with low-cost or free junk food. We can either support that environment for our kids or we can create a healthier one.

    This is not about blaming ourselves as the problem. It is about empowering ourselves as the solution… every day, including Halloween. I look forward to your comments.

    • Joan Collins October 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

      Exactly, you have to see Halloween in context…

      “Those are causes of death due to preventable, diet-related illnesses that we can choose to contribute to or not every time a child knocks on our door at Halloween.”

    • lisa October 21, 2011 at 10:33 am #

      Holy crap, it’s Halloween. Once again, you are limiting your children’s lives and making the forbidden even more enticing. It’s fine to be too cheap to give out candy, but don’t climb on your high horse about it. Better to have a day as a free for all, throw out the candy in a day or so, and leave it be. In addition, you aren’t responsible for anyone’s child but your own.

      Each and every limit we set on our children out of fear creates more of the thing we are trying to avoid: children who are afraid of the world they live in. Honestly, this world isn’t more dangerous than it used to be, but the instant media access has created a climate of fear. Children aren’t allowed to play out of sight of a parent, even at 9 or 10 years old.

      • K. October 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

        “too cheap”? Try pricing some of the alternative handouts. This year, we’re giving out glow necklaces and sticky hands, and my kids are excited to trick-or-treat at our house.

    • Sweet Mama October 24, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      “We live in a time now where every stranger is seen as a kidnapper and every apple has a razor blade.” Seeing it as so doesn’t make it so. I feel sorry for you. And your kids. Not to mention your neighbors.

  27. Dawn October 20, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    It’s HALLOWEEN! We all loved it as children – no one here can say they didn’t and be truthful. Not ever allowing children access to candy will only worsen their health when they get older and discover more of it – then they’ll be more likely to eat it in great amounts. I find that introducing them to it younger makes a ton more sense. Then you can explain how too much is bad for you. As for Halloween, if you don’t want the child to have a ton of candy, choose how far they can trick or treat. Maybe only let them go down the block so they only get a small amount. Let them have half and put the rest up to be given out in amounts you prefer at various times (like maybe a piece or two if they do their homework on Friday instead of putting it off until Sunday, a piece or two instead of dessert/snacks one night a week, etc).

  28. Gayle October 21, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    How about handing out fruit strips? It is like a fruit snack, but all natural and made with just real fruit. I put them in my family’s lunches as a “dessert” just so they have something sweet but that isnt bad for them. I purchase mine from target and they come in a variety of flavors. Just an idea!

    Happy Halloween everyone!

  29. Josephine October 24, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    At our house we give out small toys rather than candy. We have done healthier treats in the past, but I think a lot of them get thrown out and I don’t want to waste food either. The kids love the glow in the dark balls or reflector pumpkin necklaces or bendy skeletons. I’m sure it irritates a few parents, because who needs more plastic toys in their house, but it reduces the total amount of candy. I do try to stay away from whistles or putty – anything that is noisy or messy.
    For our daughter we have a small, Halloween decorated jar. She can keep that much candy and have it a little at a time until it’s gone. I really thing reducing rather than eliminating is the goal. Sweets are going to be out there and I think kids need to learn how to deal with that responsibly.
    We are also lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where everyone walks with their kids to t-or-t. Our school has recently eliminated bringing candy to hand out in class and our PTA does activities, rather than parties with food (read cake, candy, etc). It can be done 🙂
    It is good to hear from others out there who share this concern. There have been many times I felt like the weird parent or the weird neighbor.
    Happy Halloween

  30. Jenn October 24, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    When my kids were born, I didn’t want to make Halloween all about the candy… we started our own Fall traditions and included Charlie Browns Great Pumpkin in it. We have a special Halloween dinner, we go trick or treating at various relatives houses, we drive around and see all the spooky decorations and we go home and look at what they were given and they can keep a couple of favorites.
    The Great Pumpkin makes an appearance during the night and takes the rest of the candy and leaves a book or a small toy. They are happy and not on a sugar high for days to come.
    I let my kids eat candy. I don’t make it forbidden, but it is a sometime treat and they have learned that. I think making a food forbidden will make it that much more wanted.

  31. Julia October 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    I get that Halloween is fun, but do people not teach their kids manners anymore? When I answer the door with a large bowl of candy, I usually just hold it out to kids and tell them, “Take two”, but sometimes a kid has already grabbed 4-5 pieces before I get the words out, at which point I will say, “Easy, sport, maybe you want to leave some for the others!”

    even though I love answering the door and exclaiming at all the costumes, it really doesn’t feel right when little junior and his parents are obese and huffing and puffing from the effort of climbing up our three porch steps and they are now rifling through the candy bowl for their favorites. I feel a little bit like the grim reaper. And I do not want to defray the cost of junior’s health insurance later on, that’s for sure.

    Personally, I loved Halloween and candy as a child, and my parents did little to nothing to reign in our post trick or treat consumption. But nowadays, with cheap bags of candy an everpresent staple on grocery store shelves, I just don’t feel like it’s special anymore to eat a peanut butter cup or a chocolate and caramel cookie bar. Or chocolate-covered wafer layers that break into neat rectangular segments. You know of which candies I speak. But they’re everywhere all the time, and it’s not a treat anymore. It’s just a whole bunch of cheap chocolate with lots of lecithin in it that makes me mildly nauseated to think about consuming more than one. Eccch.

    As for the people who are wildly offended by the idea of anyone giving anything out other than candy, you need to relax. That is not “taking away Halloween” any more than giving out candy is “maiming our children”.

    • Julia H. October 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

      I agree completely Julia! I couldn’t have said it better!!

  32. kindakrunchy October 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    “Second, we live in a different world than we grew up in. In a post-9/11 world, no longer will any child find the joy in running off an airplane into grandma’s arms at the gate, no matter how nostalgic. The environment has changed and we have learned to create new ways to connect and bring meaning to our family experiences. We live in a time now where every stranger is seen as a kidnapper and every apple has a razor blade. We don’t know our neighbors and we don’t trust anyone with our kids except those we pay to care for them. Our environment has changed.”

    This is a fallacy. I grew up in the late 70s/early 80s. Trick-or-treating was held at 2pm on the Sunday before Halloween for safety reasons in my town – I never had the experience of trick-or-treating at night. Parents took their kids to the police station to have the candy x-rayed for razor blades and pins before allowing us to eat it. Homemade treats were tossed unless we knew the person that gave it to us. Airport gates were also secured at that time (I believe it was after the PanAm bombing or something) so I grew up meeting relatives on the other side of the security checkpoint, just like now. I had chocolate milk at lunch in grade school, soda machines and crappy, highly processed cafeteria food in my high school, candy, pizza, cookie, and bake sale fundraisers throughout childhood, junk food rewards and birthday celebrations in class, etc. I could go on and on. Our environment hasn’t changed that much. A lot of people seem more disconnected now while others have become hypervigilant after having their own kids and are really just realizing how scary the world can be and always has been. It’s fine to want to improve things, but some of this is a bit much.

  33. Tracy October 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    We just set limits and although it was hard the first couple of times the boys learned quickly and adjusted just fine. We do this for all holidays, birthdays and school parties. We sort through the candy when we are all done, there are just some things we wont let them have for any occasion. Then they get to pick a certain amount and may only have one or two pieces a day until it is gone. We usually take the remainder to a local dentist who buys it back for a dollar a pound or we buy it from them and take the rest to work or dump it. We also offer them a trade it option for school parties and birthdays, if they bring it home and give it to use we trade for things that are healthy that they enjoy just as much and they really enjoy this because it gives them the option of picking what they get instead of eating what was choosen and handed to them.
    It may be tough to be the “bad guy” but kids are resilient and forgiving and in the end you are doing what is right for them and the rewards later on are worth the struggle now. Dont give up, stand up and fight for your childrens and grand-childrens health and future!

  34. Ann November 1, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    I used to fret about this a lot, especially when my son was younger and it seemed EVERY holiday had become an excuse to send him home from school with a pound of candy in his backpack. Valentines had become little boxes of candy. Etc. But then I used to fret when his day care provider gave him the empty calories of pretzels. I got over that!

    But in the end I decided it was better to let him learn to set limits, and that demonizing candy was only going to backfire. We followed the common plan of a little every day until he lost interest or forgot about it or it went stale. But we never took it away. The only candy that went to the office was candy we bought to hand out that was left over. Now my son is 11 going on 12 and this was probably the last year for trick or treat. This morning I told him he was the boss of his candy from now on–when and how much of it to eat. I think he can handle it.

    The candy aspect of Halloween bothers me far less than rampant consumerism in general, and tarty costumes on little girls and tweens. It’s HALLOWEEN. So I second the idea of limiting the time or range of the foraging for candy, rather than hiding, confiscating, buying, trading, etc. Far better to focus on hidden sugar day to day, that we don’t even know we’re eating, than candy on Halloween. IMHO.

  35. Sheila November 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    After reading all 56 posts here I find it interesting to see a pattern that one if the biggest concerns for parents is taking the “fun” out of Halloween by having to remove candy from the picture.

    First as a reminder everyone that is blogging here is interested in their children’s health….at the site is FedUpWithLunch.com soooooo the folks that are not participating in this exchange are the rest of the nation, where there are families that overeat,have children that are medicated due to behavior problems (which is totally relative to the nutrition a factor) and probably have no understanding that High Fructose Corn Syrup (in almost every candy product produced today) not to mention almost all candy is produced in China now- companies then don’t have to be concerned about regulation such as dyes or preservatives.
    I am a 56 yr old mother of two grown boys but hope that the parents of young children today will take charge and take back what should be fun and exciting SPECIAL occasions,thins to anticipate and look forward too- another month long celebrations that have no beginning or end
    I will repeat from my earlier blog comment….when I was a child we looked forward to the costume and actually creating it..a.parents need to a let their children use some creativity and their imagination which to have been snuffed but the importance of the candy!

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