Most families know the inevitable behavior that comes with feeding children too much sugar. Or shall we say, allowing children to have too much sugar. Here is a little bit of science and a few practical tips to help you navigate Halloween.
Imagine eating sugar is like going on a roller coaster ride. The higher you go the further the drop. With sugar (and all refined carbohydrates!), the more you eat and the higher the “sugar high”, the longer and harsher the sugar crash will be. It won’t be a casual ride back down, it will be a quick crash to the bottom. Now imagine the hangry (hungry+angry) state adults feel after long periods without food (low blood sugar levels) – you know, when patience, concentration and kindness runs thin and you turn into a bit of a monster? That is what happens when the sugar rush finishes and blood sugar levels have dropped low again. Now multiply that a few times for kids. Mood swings, aggressive behavior, lack of concentration and perhaps a few tears! When blood sugar levels crash, it means there is an internal hormone messaging system that is affecting their behavior.
LITTLE BODIES, BIGGER EFFECT
Another way to think about it – If you and a child ate the same amount of sugar (say two candies!), it will affect them much differently than it affects you! Little kids have smaller bodies, so their blood sugar concentration would be much higher than yours from just eating similar candies in the same quantity. Keep that in mind when you’re considering how much candy they are having and deciding on portion sizes.
There is more to the sugar discussion for kids. There is a possible link to hyperactivity, decreased concentration and to aggressive behavior. When it comes to Halloween and Halloween candy, we have a few important tips to share!
TIPS AND TRICKS:
- The day of Halloween, make sure you reduce other sources of refined sugars and have your kids stick with water. No fruit juices either! Why? Store bought fruit juice (without fiber) is simply sugar.
- Before they go trick or treating, make sure they have a protein rich snack or meal. Scrambled eggs and broccoli, chicken tenders and butternut squash / cauliflower, or something similar. When you add protein to carbohydrates (sugar), you balance the energy release. Imagine a joyful roller coaster ride back down to the ground, rather than a plunge!
When it comes to what candy you give out or allow your children to eat
- Fruit! Like orange segments covered in dark chocolate or mandarin jack-o-lanterns.
- Healthier brands of sweets like dark chocolate, Justin’s mini peanut butter cups, or Yum Earth lollipops
- Read labels and look for candies that are died with Natural colors. Lots of British brands will be naturally dyed.
- Food dyes (they are derived from petroleum and linked to ADHD)
- High fructose corn syrup
- Excessive amounts of sugar
Also, don’t be afraid to be the neighbor who gives out crayons, stickers or other toys. Other parents will appreciate it and you’ll also avoid the risk of being stuck with excess candy in your house that will tempt everyone, including you! And lastly, for your family, try focusing on other Halloween activities – like carving pumpkins, making costumes and hanging out with friends. The festivities are the real joy!
Have a happy and healthy Halloween!
Your Ocean Rock Wellness Team