A healthy Halloween tradition worth keeping
Have you met Susie Switch Witch?
Have you met Susie Switch Witch?
She wears a crooked hat
She’s on the hunt for candy
To feed her naughty bats
The like the brightest lollipops
The green chews and the blue
And if you want some bubblegum
They’ll really want that too!
Then only when you’re snoozing
Susie will drop in
She’ll take out all the candy
And who knows what she’ll put in?
You might wake up and find a toy
Maybe a book or bear?
Something for your piggy bank?
A funny game to share?
So put aside some candy
For Susie’s bats to eat
And in the morning you will fin
A different kind of treat!
There’s nothing like a browse through the aisles at People’s Pharmacy to make me realize that Halloween has changed – partly because time has marched on, partly because Hallmark are so good at convincing us it’s all important and partly because I’m on the other side of the Atlantic.
In the UK, waaaaay back in the 80s, we would race home from school and dress up as something spooky for Halloween. By that I mean we would be either a cat, or a witch. That was it. No strawberry shortcake or superhero outfits, no bumble bees or butterflies.
We would be a cat or a witch dammit and that would usually involve making whiskers out of tin foil and stuffing black tights with socks for a tail. After that we’d raid a broom from the garden shed, bob for apples and light a sparkler. I am not sure what my Mum was doing but I can tell you what she wasn’t doing. She wasn’t dressing up as a sexy school girl or a half naked cave woman.
Fast-forward 30 years and take a peek inside my closet. There hangs a purple monster outfit with an outrageously short tutu that I not only wore last year, but wore with glee. AND I bought my children matching outfits. AND I spent a whole week decorating the house, covering every available smooth surface with small suction spiders. The latter was a bad move because I get up to pee every single night since having children…. and every single night I would forget about said spiders. Seven nights of cardiac arrest cannot be good for you.
And yet, despite that, Halloween remains one of my favourite times of year. I absolutely love the excitement on my kids faces when they see their costumes in the mirror. I live for the giggles as they tear around the neighbourhood trick or treating with their friends. And yes, of course all the candy traumatises me, but we have found our way round that one since we came up with Susie Switch!
You might remember the Switch Witch from this time last year. It’s a concept that has been around for a while, but I wrote a little story to help bring it to life. It was designed to help health-conscious parents navigate Halloween, allowing their kids to take part in all the fun but helping them dilute the sugar rush at the end of the night. Some people see nothing wrong with one night of sugar madness and I respect that. But my kids are faced with sugar overload almost every weekend – birthday parties, play dates, community events, Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day… not to mention all the sugar hidden in ordinary things like ketchup, pasta sauce and yoghurt. So yes, if we get an idea for taking the sugar (but not the fun) away, then you bet we run with it!
According to the team at Fed Up (the jaw-dropping health documentary that explores our addiction to the sweet stuff) the average trick or treater will return home with 600g of sugar. To help put that in perspective, that’s approximately 150 teaspoons per child. Even if you get through it slowly, it’s a massive amount. So you can either hope they forget about it, or you can find a creative way to get rid of it. In my experience it’s much easier to say “we don’t have any” than “you can’t have any” so this is where Susie Switch comes in.
Here’s how it works. Susie Switch flies around the houses at Halloween collecting candy offerings to feed her naughty bats. In exchange, she leaves a different kind of treat. It could be a toy, book, movie tickets….whatever you as parents consider appropriate. As Susie’s bats are particularly attracted to all the brightly coloured stuff, we use the exercise to sort the artificially coloured candy from the naturally coloured candy. All the artificial stuff goes to Susie Switch, and my kids keep what they like of the natural options. But the poem is flexible – it can simply be used to limit quantity in total, or it can be used to filter out inappropriate items (e.g. bubblegum for very small children or nut/dairy/gluten items for those with allergies). My kids get so excited about the prospect of the switch that they stuff as much as they can in Susie’s bucket!
We’ve printed the poem here for you but it’s also available to download as a PDF on my website. If you used it last year, you might notice a few changes. The candy used to go to Susie’s naughty cat, but I changed it to bats as some parents were concerned for the safety of their family pets! Hopefully we don’t have to worry about anyone having a pet bat….. Also, the “switch” used to occur in the child’s bedroom, but I have made it more ambiguous for children who are afraid of the witch coming into their room. And finally, she has now been brought to life with some amazing illustrations from my lovely Dad!
If you want some tips for how to explain these differences to your kids, then have a look at the Susie FAQ section on the webpage. There’s also a new poem all about Susie’s naughty bats, linking the candy to their grumpy behaviour. Children are encouraged to email photos of their healthy snacks to Susie to help motivate her motley crew – so see if it helps get your picky eaters on board. Susie Switch is a busy lady but your kids just might get a reply. For all the details, simply go to www.natural.bm and click on Susie Switch!
The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the Managing Director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the U.K. Please note that she is not a Registered Dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda