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Don't spook kids by giving nutrient-lacking candy this Halloween

Monday, October 30, 2006 by: Connie Bennett
Tags: Halloween, candy, sugar

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Adults, please don't fall into the candy-giving trap this Halloween when those adorable, costumed-clad kids ring your doorbell. Halloween does not have to be a mandatory give-out-sugar today!

You see, handing out candies -- or what I call blood-sugar bouncing "treats" -- is a "tricky" proposition. All that sugar could turn your neighbor's kids into "Sugar Brats" by sending them into SUGAR SHOCK! -- which means you could contribute to their getting all kinds of health and emotional problems.

You certainly don't want to help turn those adorable, beloved, innocent children into cranky, depressed, concentration-challenged, wired, fat or maybe even fight-picking "Little Halloween Sugar Grinches," right?

So, choose fun, non-edible alternatives to share with trick-or-treaters. Hand out age-appropriate, creativity-generating doodads and gizmos instead such as:

  • Glow-in-the-dark insects, spooky fingers and other objects
  • Halloween-themed crayons, pens, chalk, pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos, or even monster-shaped erasers
  • Rubber worms, spiders, or other creepy figures
  • Non-Halloween-themed party favors such as hair clips, hair brands, scrunchies, plastic bracelets and rings (for girls)
  • Party favors (still available) such as little frisbees (adorned with smiley faces), engine whistles, kazoos, tiny colorful notebooks, plastic watches, puzzles, water pistols, key chains, colorful stickers, etc. (For boys or girls.)
Wondering where to find all the above goodies? You can get all of this stuff at dollar or 99 cents stores or party stores. (Bear in mind that you also can purchase these party favors for half price after Halloween this year to give out next year, too.)

Rest assured, too: Kids will like your creative, Halloween-giving choices. That's right: Researchers found that these non-candy favors can be a big hit. One study from Yale University revealed that half of the 284 trick-or-treaters aged 3 to 14 didn't want lollipops, fruit-flavored chews, or hard candies. Yeah, instead, they preferred such toys as glow-in-the-dark insects, stretch pumpkin men, or Halloween-themed stickers and pencils.

If you still insist on giving out food, then try giving trick-or-treaters small pre-packaged:

  • Unsalted, unsweetened almonds or soy nuts. (Don't give out peanuts or tree nuts such as walnuts and cashews, because many children are allergic to them.)
  • Shelled sunflower seeds or pistachios
  • Raisins in little boxes (Although these are high in natural sugar, they're far preferable to candy.)
  • Bottled water (Yeah, kids will be thirsty from all that walking door to door!)
Meanwhile, you also could encourage your children to think of other less-fortunate kids around the world by encouraging them to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. Just get the special UNICEF donation boxes at selected card stores. (To join the Original KIDS HELPING KIDS® campaign, just go to UnicefUSA.org/TrickOrTreat.)

If your kids would rather do the traditional door-to-door thing this Halloween, they can still Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF after the holiday, because the door-to-door collection is now "a month-long program that has educated, inspired and empowered kids to make a difference in the lives of children who are less fortunate," as the organization's website notes. In fact, UNICEF has raised more than $132 million collected since that first night back in World War II, when Philadelphia children became so motivated by reports of suffering European children that they went door-to-door Halloween night to collect money for their young peers overseas.

So this Halloween, forego those nutrient-deprived candies. Instead, give out fun, healthy goodies and treats to your neighborhood's kids.

Connie Bennett is an experienced journalist and author of the book, SUGAR SHOCK! (Berkley Books, Dec. 26, 2006). She is a former, dedicated "sugar addict," who reluctantly quit sugar and refined carbs on doctor's orders in 1998. Connie -- who now playfully pokes fun of herself as a "Scary Sugar Shrew No More!" -- is a "Savvy Sugar Sleuth," who, spreads the sour scoop about sweets and other "culprit carbs," which could trigger depression, mood swings, "brain fog," weight gain, and other scary symptoms of SUGAR SHOCK! She helps "sugar sufferers" to break free from their dangerous habit through telephone seminars; her 21-Day, Kick-Sugar Countdown Diet™; her award-winning www.SugarShockBlog.com; and her free, KickSugar international support group (on Yahoo!). She is a featured contributor to eDiets.com and other media outlets and a certified holistic health counselor. TIME magazine spotlights Connie's book, SUGAR SHOCK!, in its Oct. 30, 2006 issue, "A Sugar-Free Halloween?," noting that the author "trots out a Who's Who of prominent nutritionists who support Bennett's argument that sugar is the road to physical ruin."

Visit www.SugarShock.com to sign up for Connie's free e-zine and reports.

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