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Having a healthy Halloween doesn’t have to be difficult! Get your kids on board with a low sugar holiday using these simple suggestions for fall fun instead.
When I was eating dairy free last year, the holidays were hard. From the moment Pinterest exploded with all things pumpkin spice, it became clear: All the yummy stuff had dairy in it.
The year before was no better. I was managing a pregnancy with type 1 diabetes. I couldn’t afford to splurge on a tasty treat because the tickle on my taste buds just wasn’t worth the risk of a less-than-perfect glucose reading two hours later.
Now? I can feel fall in the air again, and although I’m finally free to eat whatever I want, I’ve found…I don’t want to.
It’s a common misconception that people with type 1 diabetes can’t have sugar or treats. On the contrary: Sugar has literally saved my life, and as long as I take insulin I can technically eat whatever I want.
But I choose not to. Not just because eating junk makes it harder to keep my blood sugar within the rigid parameters I set for myself, but because it’s bad for you. And especially because I don’t want to set an example for my daughter that says having “fun” and eating what tastes good is more important than doing what is good for her body.
I don’t mean that in a holier-than-thou, I’m-a-better-parent-than-you, mommy wars sort of way that people automatically assume, either. I mean it in a you-do-what-you-want-but-this-is-what-we-do sort of way. I promise, I strongly believe that what your child eats is your business. And since I also believe that what my child eats is my business, here’s how we will be keeping our Halloween–and the entire fall season–a healthy one:
Kids don’t like surprises. Well, perhaps more accurately, kids don’t like to be disappointed. Setting expectations far in advance that you’ll be doing Halloween differently this year is one of the best ways to combat that disappointment before it has a chance to come to a head.
Your kids might be upset. Expect that. And genuinely empathize with them. Finding out you’re not going to get to do (or eat) something you were looking forward to is disappointing–that’s a feeling even adults struggle with!
Realize you may need to remind them several times that this year is going to be different and that they’re likely to forget this, especially if they’re young. Depending on their ages, consider asking open-ended questions about why they think doing things differently would be a good idea for your family. This gets them thinking and, perhaps more importantly, helps them “own” the decision.
If you have very young children, setting expectations may not be all that difficult. My daughter is 19 months old and has never eaten chocolate before. She literally has no idea what she’s missing. Later, when she sees we don’t do “candy” holidays the way her friends or cousins do, we may have some disappointment to work through together, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed (perhaps in vain…) that she’ll accept our traditions as simply just what we’ve always done.
FOCUS ON EXPERIENCES
When you’re letting your kids know things will be different this year, focus on experiences over sweets and treats. Let them know that instead of celebrating for one evening, you’ll be enjoying the entire month together. This is especially a good idea for families who would prefer to enjoy the fall season without celebrating some of the spookier elements of Halloween.
What are some things you can do as a family that don’t involve processed, added sugar? Go apple picking! Plan a special movie night! Carve pumpkins! Go nuts decorating your house, and let them help! Keep their hands and minds busy with themed crafts and books! Plan a family potluck on Halloween and have the kids dress up for that instead. Get creative!
Keeping away from candy doesn’t mean you have to steer clear of every treat that tastes good. A quick Pinterest search will yield loads of tasty, real-food, festive snack ideas for the season. Here are a few of my favorites:
ROASTED HALLOWEEN VEGGIES BY LIVE EAT LEARN
HOMEMADE APPLE SAUCE BY CHEF IN TRAINING
SILLY APPLE BITES BY FORK AND BEANS
Let your kids be involved in planning your “alternative” Halloween/fall celebrations. If they’re not that interested in apple picking, for example, don’t force it! Present some ideas that you have the time and resources for and let them choose the ones they find most exciting. This gives them a little more control over the situation, without sacrificing your wishes, and helps them “own” the idea.
Let others in your family and circle of friends know you will be doing things differently this year so that, if they will be around, they can help make the transition easier on your kids by not bringing up trick or treating or offering sweets.
Don’t be surprised if you get some backlash here. You might be told you’re not “fun,” that a little bit of candy “doesn’t hurt” (which is true but not the point), or that you’re being “too controlling.” Feel confident in your decision, though, and don’t let this get you down! Remember that as a parent it’s your job to set limits, and junk food isn’t a necessary prerequisite for fun.
How will you keep your family eating healthy this Halloween? Any tricks I missed? Share them in the comments!
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