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It’s that time of year when the little ones get dressed up in super heroes and ghosts and go door to door in search of free candy. Halloween. If you are like me, you have fond memories of getting together with friends or family and gathering a giant bag of sugary goodness. Then the best part: indulging in that candy until you get a bellyache!
A few weeks ago Chef Caleb talked about some great ways for kids (and adults, alike) to limit the amount of sugar consumed and a reward system to implement. Today I’m going to talk about exactly how excess sugar can harm our immune system and some Halloween candy alternatives.
Sugar is climbing the top of the list of one of the most damaging and dangerous substances to the body. When a person consumes sugar on a regular basis and in an excess amount, the body and all its processes are affected. Right away, the sugar enters the blood. This triggers the body to release insulin in order to get the sugar out of the blood. When this happens over and over again from sugar over-consumption, the body is desensitized and does not signal insulin release. Then sugar remains in the blood and causes many health problems. With excess blood sugar, the healing process slows down. This means if an injury occurs, the body cannot work as fast and efficiently as it should.
With excess blood sugar also comes depressed immune system. The body recognizes the sugar as a foreign body and starts to attack it. The white blood cells are some immune system fighters. When there is so much blood sugar, there is a large amount of the white blood cells needed to attack the sugar. Therefore, if an injury or accident happens at that time, the white blood cells are busy fighting the sugar and any other damaged area does not get the full “army” of white blood cells.
There are some Halloween treat alternatives you can have around the house to curb temptation. You can make ghosts out of banana halves and dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins, for eyes. You can create little pumpkins by removing the peels of oranges or tangerines and adding a small piece of celery for the stalk. One of my favorite snacks as a kid was apples and peanut butter. You can make a paleo version and cut slices of apple with almond butter. You can make scary Halloween mouths by taking two slices of apple with the skin on and putting almond butter in between them. Then add some almond slices for teeth. Now if you just can’t resist having some Halloween candy, I suggest you (or your child) indulge in a few pieces on Halloween, then dispose of the rest. This will let you get a taste without going overboard.
Many families these days are having Halloween parties in order to avoid the Trick-or-Treating all together. Having a party is a great way to still have the community aspect of Halloween while limiting the candy. Have some of these healthy snack ideas I mentioned, bob for apples, drink apple cider, have a Jack-o-Lantern contest, have a costume contest. Send guests home with some non-food door prizes so they don’t go home empty handed. This is one of the best ways to still enjoy the holiday and also stick to your healthy lifestyle.