By Samantha Ruffin, Public Relations Assistant
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because of its general association with fun and, more importantly, candy. This is the one time of the year when it is socially acceptable to leave the supermarket with a shopping cart full of sweet treats. Every October, my family stocks up on an assortment of brands (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are a personal favorite). However, the street that we live on sees very little trick-or-treating traffic, if any, come Halloween night, most likely due to the lack of street lighting. Thus, in essence, my family buys these Halloween treats more for the purpose of delighting in them ourselves than for the discarding of them. I am certain that this Halloween scenario is a common one.
Eating large quantities of fattening, low nutritional Halloween candy is an unhealthy habit, of course, especially when thinking in a terms of the larger societal context. Scarier than any ghouls or goblins is the fact that one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) and about 17% of (or 12.5 million) children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese.
“Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.”
Heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer are all obesity-related conditions (CDCP); thus, America’s obesity problem is a serious issue. In regards to Halloween, there is a slim chance that my family will stop eating Halloween treats and why should we? There is no reason to stop indulging altogether; however, we can make more health-conscious decisions in terms of the types of snacks we consume. That being said, Halloween goodies are not limited to guilt-inducing sugary, fattening, calorie-packing varieties of candy.
Instead of binging on junk food, you can snack on bags of roasted peanuts, a tasty and beneficial snack selection. According to TLC’s Victoria Vogt, peanuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which keep the brain functioning properly. Pumpkin seeds are another healthy alternative loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals including as zinc, iron, B vitamins, and manganese. For chocolate lovers (like myself), chocolate drizzled granola bars are a yummy choice. The organic brands or the least processed ones provide the most nutritional value. In my household, there is one healthy treat that has always been a Halloween staple: popcorn balls. These low-sodium goodies are a great source of fiber.
If you cannot resist candy then at least attempt to eat smaller portions of it by freezing your leftover treats. By doing so, the candy takes longer to eat so you can only devour so much at a time (without chipping a tooth). In addition, you can indulge in less junk by sharing it with others (how considerate!) by bringing leftover candy to your office. Have a fun, healthy and safe Halloween!
10 things to do with all that Halloween candy. Retrieved October 12 from http://www.parenthood.com/articletopics/10_things_to_do_with_all_that_halloween_candy.html/page/
Butler, A. (2010). How healthy are pumpkin seeds. Livestrong. Retrieved October 3, 2011 from http://www.livestrong.com/article/334885-how-healthy-are-pumpkin-seeds
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Homepage. (2011). Retrieved October 3, 2011 from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/data.html
Vogt, V. Ten healthy Halloween treats. (2011). TLC. http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/menus/10-healthy-halloween-treats2.htm