Haunted houses, goblins and ghosts can be pretty scary for many of us but the most frightening aspect of Halloween can come in the form of the “trick of the treat.”
Just when you get your groove on through the summer with warm weather, outdoor activities and mastering the low carb BBQ, fall is now upon us and with it we begin the holiday cycle of temptation once again.
As the days get shorter and the nights grow colder, it seems we have less motivation to stay the course with our low carb plans.
The copious amounts of junk food we are presented with can be overwhelming. At the entrance of every grocery and drug store you are tempted with large bags of treats to hand out to already metabolically suffering children, many with behavioral, attention and learning deficits.
This junk food contains sugars, high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats and artificial colorings all of which are known to cause metabolic and cellular damage.
How do we break this vicious cycle of the norm? This was a commitment I set out to accomplish when I began studying nutrition. For the first several years of my low carb journey, I was resolute and only purchased candy I would not eat. This was not the case prior to understanding my carb addiction.
When my children were small and they returned with their loot, we would dump each bag out to inspect the candy as most responsible parents do. We would joke that all of our “favorites” looked like they may have been tampered with so it was best if we took those peanut butter cups and caramel chocolate bars to save them from subsequent poisoning.
When my “diet” became a lifestyle and I realized that no one should consume the amounts nor the ingredients of these treats, I began to evaluate what I would hand out each Halloween to our neighborhood friends. This made my husband very nervous. He exclaimed “Oh great! We’ll be the house that gets egged I’m sure”! That year I purchased Clementine oranges (aka Cuties). To my surprise, most of the children were actually excited with this healthy treat!
That small gesture of health meant a great deal to the parents escorting these children. I received a few endearing whispers of “thank you” that evening and continued my new ritual to become “the healthy house stop” each and every Halloween since. My dear husband was admittedly surprised that he has never been forced to clean egg from our front door.
What will you do to create new rituals for your children this Halloween? Purchasing candy that won’t tempt you is always the first low carb diet ritual. Will this be the year you stand up against the norm?
While a difficult sell to the children, you can slowly transition your little goblins to healthier alternatives and ideas. Many dentists now offer a “buy back” purchasing Halloween candy from their patients. Some children will “trick or treat” for non-profit organizations for donations. While this is not generally accepted as a fun idea, you might consider offering a nice gift that has been on the child’s wish list in exchange for this benevolent act of kindness.
Throw a Halloween party with plenty of fun and exciting low carb “tricks and treats”. You can find a host of creative ideas with a few simple internet searches. Simplifying the menu is easy, when we explore all the fun and healthy finger food possibilities.
Any party can include meat and cheese platters, sliced vegetables with dip, olives, nuts, pumpkin seeds from the carved jack-o-lantern, deviled eggs and homemade gelatin snacks using special Halloween silicone molds. All of these foods with some creativity can be turned into a ghoulish-looking specimen.
Your deviled eggs for instance can take on the look of a blood shot eye by adding a sliced round of olive to the center using hot sauce as the “bloodshot veins” of the eye. This can also be done with meatballs.
The beverage is always the most difficult to plan so my advice is to serve a seasonal beverage like this recipe I found for mulled apple cider and shrunken apple heads. Omit the alcohol of course when serving to minors. I would consider omitting the lemonade as well to reduce the carb count. While this is not a low carb beverage, it beats the option of artificial colors or sweeteners and the apple heads make it so much fun to look at!
Decorate the table with plastic spiders, store bought webs, pumpkins and gourds for additional effect.
Build a haunted house for the party or your visiting trick-or-treat neighbors. After all, this is the essence of the “trick” right?
If you are strictly handing out Halloween treats, non-edible items can be a hit. Pencils, erasers, spider rings and stickers are great options.
Mitigating the damage to your own children can be achieved by allowing them to consume the candy for a couple of days while making an agreement to toss the remainder. This eliminates that “slow drip” of sugar over the next couple of weeks which could in turn help to solidify a life-long sugar addiction.
Whatever your choice, don’t feel guilty about tossing it. After all, the potential metabolic effects will last longer than the guilt of feeling like you’ve wasted someone else’s money.
If you have no children of your own to entertain, checking out of this sometimes inconvenient celebration is another option. Treat yourself to a dinner and movie instead of spending money on others whom won’t even notice the absence of your donation to their already over flowing trick-or-treat container.
No matter what you choose to do this Halloween, strive to make it a healthier, seasonal experience. With big marketing campaigns, we forget that fall is the time for harvest and Halloween is an incidental part of this with its beginnings based on Celtic superstition and a new year.