Healthy Hallowe’en

  • Scary statistic: the average American trick or treater will return home with 600 grams, or 150 teaspoons, of sugar (File photograph)

    Scary statistic: the average American trick or treater will return home with 600 grams, or 150 teaspoons, of sugar (File photograph)


Our most spooky holiday is almost here and I’ve begun to have palpitations. Not because of the fear factor, but because of the sheer volume of sugar that’s floor to ceiling in some of the grocery stores.

We may have a sugar tax, but Bermudians stock up for Hallowe’en like they do a hurricane. It’s as if the apocalypse is coming … and everyone has decided to ride it out on a sugar rush!

Now, I don’t mind a little sugar, and I definitely love the fun of trick or treating, but the volume is a little overwhelming.

According to the team at Fed Up (the jarring health documentary that explores our addiction to the sweet stuff) the average American trick or treater will return home with 600 grams of sugar.

To help put the 600g in perspective, it amounts to 150 teaspoons per child.

Even if you get through it slowly, it’s a massive amount.

And I would love, love, love to say that Hallowe’en is just a one-off (so relax the rules and let children be children), but the vast majority of children go over their recommended daily sugar intake by three times every day. Every. Single. Day.

In the short term, that can lead to concentration problems and weight gain. In the long term, it’s a big risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

So, as a parent, you can either hope they forget about their Hallowe’en stash, 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 (for little children especially) this is where the Switch Witch comes in!

You can argue that sugar is sugar, but I think Hallowe’en is also a good opportunity to teach children how to spot artificial dyes too.

Some candy is coloured with natural dyes from fruit and vegetables (especially UK brands), and other candy is dyed with petroleum-based dyes linked to hyperactivity and ADD.

In addition, Blue 1 is linked to asthma attacks and Red 40 is linked to tumour growth.

A good comparison would be M & Ms which are artificially dyed, and chocolate Smarties which are naturally dyed.

It’s important to teach children to limit their exposure to sugar, but it’s also a good idea to help them identify more natural treats for when they do want the sweet stuff.

So, the idea is that the Switch Witch (ours is called Susie Switch) flies around the houses at Hallowe’en collecting candy offerings to feed her naughty bats.

In exchange, she leaves a different kind of treat. It could be a toy, book, cash, movie tickets …. whatever you as parents consider appropriate.

In the story, Susie’s bats are particularly attracted to all the brightly coloured stuff, so we use the ritual to sort the artificially coloured candy from the naturally coloured candy.

All the artificial stuff goes to Susie Switch, and my children 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 (eg bubblegum for very small children or nut/dairy/gluten items for those with allergies).

My children are 11 and 9 and the jig is definitely up when it comes to them “believing”, but they still love playing along.

If you’d like an illustrated version of the story, then pop along to Miles Market where we’ve left free copies at the reception desk. You can also find it on the Miles’ Facebook page or on my website. But in addition, this Hallowe’en, try exploring a new healthy option, too.

Pumpkin seeds are widely available, affordable, nutrient-rich and tasty. Their nutritional profile is impressive (see below)!

Eating plain, raw pumpkin seeds is great, but you can also try the lightly roasted pumpkin seeds by Eden Organic or the lightly salted Superseedz at Miles (near the checkout.)

Miles also stock a ground seed mix by Linwoods (gluten-free section) that includes pumpkin seeds, which is an easy add in to muffin or banana bread recipes. It’s also great added to cereal, oatmeal or yoghurt.

Pumpkin seeds: micronutrient profile

1, Manganese

This is a trace mineral that’s essential for helping you build your own collagen and improves the density of your bones. It helps with blood sugar control and reduces free-radical damage (think disease and ageing) too.

2, Copper

Rarely mentioned, copper is essential for improving blood volume, providing energy to every single cell in your body and is a great antioxidant in its own right.

3, Phosphorous

This mineral is found in every cell in your body and is key in genetic processes. If you’ve heard that drinking soda can increase phosphoric acid (not great for bone density) which is true, don’t be concerned that eating pumpkin seeds will do the same thing. The opposite is true!

4, Magnesium

Ah, the Best Supporting Actor of the mineral kingdom! Quietly plays a vital role in over 300 chemical reactions in the body.

Improves bone density, energy, blood sugar control and assists with balancing your nervous system too. If you have Restless Leg Syndrome, you probably need more magnesium!

5, Zinc

A critical cofactor in vital enzyme reactions within your body. Important for immune function, fertility, hormone balance in general and skin health.

Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram

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Published Oct 25, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 25, 2019 at 8:03 am)

Healthy Hallowe’en

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