Halloween is like the Super Bowl for kids. There are costumes, ghost stories, parties, and candy. Lots and lots of candy. And it’s not just candy—cookies, caramel apples, cakes, and other treats overflow from school, friend’s houses, and any other organizations your children might be involved in. This can be a huge problem for families that choose to limit or avoid processed sugar.
How sugar affects the gut and probiotics:
Before you give in to your overly-sugared aunt who tells you that sugar is just fine for kids, remember this: A study conducted by Oregon State University in 2015 discovered a correlation between a high-fat and high-sugar diet with the bacteria in the gut associated with cognitive function. The study went on to find that both short and long-term memory were also affected by diets high in sugar and fat. And if you needed any more reasons to avoid sugar, studies have shown that it can also throw off your hormones, endocrine system, and digestion. So what is a well-informed, sugar-avoiding adult and/or parent to do?
Have a game plan:
Here is the thing: adults don’t always ask parents before they hand them a piece of candy. Everyone from your neighbor, to your mother, to the dentist will have a bowl of candy just lying around ready to destroy all of your hard work to avoid processed sugar. So what can you do to limit the amount of sugar your kids will ingest this Halloween?
Talk to your kids
You can’t always be there with them, so talk to your kids about sugar. Remind them how you eat at home, what happens when they eat too much sugar, and explain that your long-term goals are to raise healthy kids.
If your kids are especially sensitive to sugar, send a note with them to their caregiver or teacher that explains you are trying to limit their sugar consumption. It’s not that you want your kid to sit in the corner during the class party, but instead eat the foods you packed for them. That being said…
If you can plan ahead and know that your child will be somewhere with excess amounts of sugar, pack their own low-sugar or sugar-alternative treats for the party.
Nobody wants to be the monster that steals their kids’ candy when they come home from trick-or-treating. Instead, try offering to either buy or trade their candy stash for something else. Toys, a day-trip somewhere, or a night out at the movies are popular options.
You can always make your own Halloween treats that are low in sugar or contain sugar alternatives that you and your family approve of. You can also make Halloween themed foods out of fruits and veggies (Pinterest is rife with these ideas). Once you have created your own Halloween treat alternatives, pack them into your kids’ school bags or offer to bring a plate to your next party.
Counter the effects of sugar
Some people find that eating too much sugar causes symptoms similar to that of the flu or a hangover. This goes for parents and children alike. Take care of yourself by being gentle with your diet, drink lots of water, stick to a healthy, whole-food diet, and take your probiotics.* (LINK TO: Dr. Ohhira’s Page) You can also support yourself and your family with these tips:
Drinking water or tea with lemon juice can help to support the gut while also acting as a diuretic.
Also a diuretic, green tea (for adults, at least) can help to support the endoctrine system and your digestive health.
Be sure to take (or even up your dose of probiotics). Not only do probiotics support your immune system, studies have shown they work with your good gut bacteria to reduce sugar cravings. In addition, yet other studies have shown that certain probiotic strains will help to promote control of healthy blood glucose levels. So not only do probiotics REDUCE your sugar cravings, they also help keep your blood glucose in the healthy range if you do eat sweets. It’s a Win, win!*
Seek out some gentle exercise like swimming or walking the day after eating too much sugar.
Healthy fats and lean protein will help to fill you up while slowing the digestive process back down to an acceptable and normal speed.
Above all, stay calm
Halloween is a great holiday. Stick to the fun with parties, costumes, and games. And even if you can’t avoid all of the sugar, take comfort in knowing you can at least avoid some of it.
How do you handle the Halloween sugar rush in your household? Tell us in the comments below!