Has the thought of all those Halloween lollies got you spooked?
Even though Halloween is just a yearly event, it is unfortunately not the only time of year we have to deal with sugar! In light of the annual sugar madness that is looming, I thought I would touch on ‘how much is too much’ when it comes to sugar for our kids, and some tips to help you enjoy Halloween… Without the scary sugar-high.
For most of us, we know our limits. Consuming non-processed and naturally sweet foods in small amounts here and there and enjoying sugar in special moments is perfectly fine. But just how much does that equate to when it comes to kids?
Despite our best efforts, it is so easy for kids to be consuming excess sugar without you even realising it. Marketing is getting smarter at fooling us into thinking we are picking the ‘healthiest’ option, when in fact the harsh reality is that it’s still full of sugar. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be mindful of your child’s sugar intake, as excessive consumption can lead to all kinds of health problems that appear in childhood, and will follow them into later life.
I want you to remember when it comes to ‘recommendations’ they are a limit, not a target. No one needs sugar. You are not removing a crucial part of your child’s diet by limiting their sugar intake. We can get everything we need from a well-balanced diet full of vegetables, fruit, good quality protein, whole grains and fats. That being said, it’s not about complete deprivation either. For me, it is about healthy swaps and giving my children healthy alternatives.
Current Sugar Guidelines
For children under the age of 2, the advice is they consume no added sugar whatsoever.
As children get older, recommendations for the upper limit of added sugar intake can vary from 12.5-25g per day.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25g per day for those 2 years and older.
So what does 25 grams of sugar look like? → 4g sugar = 1 teaspoon.
The daily recommendation of 25g per day is, therefore, equivalent to 6 teaspoons.
To give you an idea of how much sugar is actually in your child’s favourite things here are some examples:
Healthy Halloween Ideas
Now I’ve done my bit for Halloween and scared you with the sugar facts, here are some ideas on how to keep your Halloween as sugar-free as possible.
Fill them up before you go. Get kids excited by making dinner with a Halloween theme. Savoury food can be exciting too! Hopefully the fuller they are, the less they’ll want sugar. I’ve given you some Halloween recipe inspiration below.
Offer them an alternative. My kids favourite treats are Banjo bears, honey lollipops, homemade cookies and bliss balls.
Get them moving by walking, instead of driving the kid's house to house. This gives the whole family some exercise and helps to tire the little ones out.
Choose or make a smaller treat container for your child. Steer clear of the pillowcase/all you can carry method. It’s about limitation, not deprivation.
Look before you let them eat. This is especially important for kids with food allergies or intolerances. Make sure you know exactly what they are eating to avoid any allergy side effects ruining the evening.
Remind them to focus on the non-food related aspects of Halloween. Dressing up, being with their friends, meeting new people and doing something different. Helping them to understand it’s about the experience as a whole - not just the treats.
Ask for more tricks. Use the trick and treat options to your advantage. Tricks can be really fun for the kids and with tricks, there is (usually) no lollies given out. More entertaining and less sugar.
Happy Halloween Recipes
Raspberry Blood Jelly - https://recipes.28bysamwood.com/recipe/strawberry-delight-gummies/
Banana Ghosts & Tangerine Pumpkins - https://weelicious.com/2013/10/14/tangerine-pumpkins-banana-ghosts-fruity-halloween/
Vegetable Skeleton Man - https://www.lizshealthytable.com/2014/10/29/halloween-vegetable-skeleton-with-dip/
Eyeball Pasta - https://www.spendwithpennies.com/eyeball-pasta-halloween-dinner-idea/
Jack O Lantern Stuffed Peppers - https://modernparentsmessykids.com/healthy-halloween-jack-o-lantern-stuffed-peppers/
No matter how hard you try you will never be able to keep your child completely away from sugar. And I don’t think it is necessarily the worst thing in the world. You don’t want to turn them into wild sugar fiends whenever you turn your back because they feel so deprived. If you can get your kids to enjoy to naturally sweet foods like fruit, and give them occasional healthy treats at home, they won’t feel like they are missing out and their sugar ‘tolerance’ is going to be naturally lower.
Kids are sweet (and scary!) enough in their Halloween costumes, don’t let them scare you even more with the post-Halloween sugar high that follows the usual trick or treat evening.