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Susie Switch – a healthy Hallowe’en tradition

There's nothing like a browse through the aisles at People's Pharmacy to make me realise that Hallowe'en has changed — partly because time has marched on, partly because Hallmark are so bloody good at their jobs 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 Hallowe'en.

By that, I mean we would either be 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 tinfoil 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 schoolgirl 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 a few years ago, 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.

This year I'm dressing up as Cleopatra, a dead version. The kids have refused to be my little serpents so I'll be accompanied by Hermione Granger and a little punk kitten. That's quite the combo, before we even get the LH into the mix!

So despite the crazy amounts of sugar, Hallowe'en remains one of my favourite times of year. I absolutely love the excitement on the girls' 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, the candy makes me break out in a sweat, but ever since we came up with Susie Switch, that's been much less of a problem.

You may already know about the Switch Witch. 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 Hallowe'en, 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, playdates, community events, Christmas, Easter, Valentine's 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 I am all for 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 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, movie tickets …. whatever you as parents consider appropriate. As Susie's bats are particularly attracted to all the brightly coloured stuff, 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 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 (eg 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 two years ago, 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 e-mail 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 is the managing director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. 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

<p>Poets’ corner</p>

Have you met Susie Switch


She wears a crooked hat

She’s on the hunt for candy

To feed her naughty bats

They like the brightest


The green chews and

the blue

And if you have some


They’ll really want that too!

After trick-or-treating

Pick out some things

to keep

And then put in a bucket,

things To swap while

you’re asleep

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 find

A different kind of treat!

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Published October 21, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 21, 2016 at 2:57 am)

Susie Switch – a healthy Hallowe’en tradition

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