The holiday season has officially arrived with buckets and bags full of temptations. We have grown up with the notion that to truly celebrate a holiday, we must let ourselves and our children indulge in the sweets. If we don’t, then we are likely seen as stingy monsters. I’m here to save you from that monstrous fate, while also saving you from a frightful night of tummy aches.
After years of watching numerous members of my family struggle with the long term effects of diabetes, I’ve come to the conclusion that a sugar free existence is the best possible outcome for my family. I know there will always be sugars in the foods that we consume, so there is no complete avoidance of it. I just would like my kids to have a general knowledge of the differences between good and bad sugars before we leave it up to them to choose their own diets. So when it comes to our Halloween treats, we try to keep the choices naturally simple.
Last year was the first year our daughter really started to take notice of the holidays. She was two-and-a-half years old and my son was one year old. It felt like we were stuck. Either we let her indulge in piles of candy and forgo our hopes of a healthy start, or we opt out of Halloween entirely. Neither choice was OK with me. There had to be a way that would provide my kids with a smile and allow them to partake in traditions, too.
My husband and I came up with this pre-made bucket idea. We let the kids have their fun running house to house dressed like their favorite characters, but at the end of the night they’ll trade-up. While they are this young, it’s easy. They have no clue what the packaged candies really are, but in their bucket they recognize things they like. I like to do mostly edible and inedible treats they know. I’ll then add a few “special ones” they haven’t tried yet or are seasonal. Anything that isn’t already packaged in a proper portion size or themed, I’ll switch to these cute holiday dollar store Ziplocs.
Last year’s bucket consisted of yogurt bites, dried mango, pecans, unsweetened applesauce packets, Halloween pretzels, ghost stickers, a book and a black cat. I also made ghosts out of bananas dipped in yogurt, with raisins for eyes, and then frozen. When I told my daughter that she had to choose between her bucket of special goodies or her bag of collected candy, she made a mad dash towards the bucket and started digging into all of the fun healthy treats.
“Thank you, Mommy! Thank You! Thank You! Thank you!” she said with enthusiasm as she kept digging to find more of her favorites. The trick is knowing your kids favorite healthy snacks and toys. You’re not taking anything away from them. Instead, you’re giving them more options. She was just happy to have something catered to her, as anyone is.
Think about it. If your husband slaves away in the kitchen to make your favorites dishes for a special dinner for you, you wouldn’t have a second thought about passing up that fast food or frozen meal you were preparing to make. Your child is only human, too. They have favorites and if given the choice, they will choose them over items they don’t prioritize. The hardest part of this is convincing family members that you aren’t torturing your kids.
There tends to be a stigma against moms who want to take this route with their kids. You’ll hear negative opinions about it from family members, other moms, and even complete strangers. I hope this article can help you stay strong and feel some sort of normalcy in this long dietary journey. For those who are reading this and debating on trying it with their family, I suggest giving it a whirl. My kids are really happy and my daughter has been looking forward to Halloween. There is no reason we can’t make new traditions.
Have a happy, healthy Halloween everyone!