Did you know the average child collects up to 7,000 calories of candy on Halloween night?
While adults indulge in their fair share of sweet treats during Halloween (we’re looking at you, pumpkin spice latte), the effect of such a massive amount of sugar on our children’s bodies can be drastic, and it all starts with the first bite.
You see, when your little one bites into that perfect piece of chocolate, his brain immediately releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter that controls his brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Interestingly enough, dopamine is also released by illicit drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Just as these can be addicting, so can that sugary chocolate. Excess sugar also interferes with healthy immune function, affects brain behavior and cognition, and negatively influences many other aspects of human health and development.
As the number of overweight children continues to rise, it’s clear that overconsumption of sugar is no joke, and parents are starting to take notice. Google searches for gluten-free and healthy candies have increased significantly over the last few seasons.
But not to fear, Halloween-lovers, there are still plenty of ways to stay healthy and enjoy the Halloween festivities.
Healthy Sweets and Treats Around the House
Believe it or not, you can celebrate this spooky holiday without loading up on sugar. Pinterest is packed with adorable, healthy options. Everyday Health gathered a few of the most creative combinations, including fruit monsters, veggie skeletons, bananas that look like ghosts (boo-nanas), and whole wheat pizza with cheese ghosts. Instead of topping off your kids’ candy overload with cupcakes and ice cream, you can mix in healthy appetizers to add vitamins and nutrients back into their diet.
If you’ve got a candy addict on your hands, try to avoid letting your child binge on candy by restricting the amount she can eat each day or making a rule that she has to set some aside for later. If she already downed her entire pillowcase of sweets, get her up and moving with some active games to burn a few calories. Make sure to keep your child hydrated with water and even decaffeinated green tea which will help to flush out her system.
Looking Out for Your Neighborhood Trick-or-Treaters
It’s wonderful how many households are presenting some different options when it comes to door-to-door Halloween treats. Last year, I was happily surprised to see how few Tootsie Rolls my daughter received and how many natural fruit bars or plastic pirate teeth had taken their place.
Aside from helping kids avoid sugar-comas, there are many kids out there who are sensitive to many different kinds of foods - particularly ingredients in much of the candy that’s traditionally distributed on Halloween. Fortunately, the Teal Pumpkin Project is helping to bring awareness to this plight so that we can all work to keep the kids in our community happy and thriving by giving out healthy-alternatives or non-food treats. Consider joining the movement, or simply offer a prepackaged snack (like granola) that offers something good for growing tummies.
Fall Foliage Deserves Your Attention
While conditions are different depending on your geography, the fall is generally a beautiful time of year to get outdoors with your family. An abundance of apples and apple orchards, pumpkin patches, fall festivals and beautiful foliage can be found just about everywhere. It presents the opportunity to connect with your community and indulge in the seasonal splendor that nature has to offer with your loved ones.
It’s also a great way to keep your body moving as the cold weather rolls in. It can be tough to stay engaged in our workout routines as the weather changes and delicious, albeit not-so-healthy, meals are plentiful. But here’s some good news: researchers at the University of Essex found that people who exercised outdoors in the fall felt it to be easier and more enjoyable. Yep, that’s right - exercise that feels both easier and more enjoyable. Thank you, Autumn!
Supplement for Success
Before the Halloween sugar-craze strikes, consider prepping your system by supplementing with probiotics. Your microbiome is the home to all kinds of bacteria, and a healthy microbiome can help you live healthier days. Probiotics and fermented foods like kefir and kombucha can optimize both immune and digestive health to help both you and your family feel your absolute best in the face of a possible chilly, sugar-filled and ominous sequence of events.
Hyperbiotics PRO-Kids can support your little one’s digestive tract by adding 4 strains of probiotics back into the gut environment. It’s an itty-bitty micropearl and designed to be so small that even preschoolers can take it with no issues. It’s a great way to make sure your kids have the gut flora they need to support their most vibrant days.
When it comes to promoting oral health and keeping those little teeth in tip-top shape, odds are there’s a little secret that you haven’t heard about yet. Did you know that oral probiotics can fortify the oral cavity with good bacteria? This is important because these good guys produce an enzyme that helps dissolve and loosen the formation of biofilm and sticky deposits that can eventually lead to the dentist chair for your wee one.1 Even more, the mouth is the keeper of the gate for immune health and oral probiotics, like those found in PRO-Kids ENT, have also been shown to promote the health of your ears, nose, and throat. to keep upper respiratory health and wellness intact.2
It turns out that the scariest part of Halloween isn’t the ghosts and witches, but might just be feeling less than your best. By taking extra steps to optimize your family’s health, you can still have a joyful, celebratory Halloween without being afraid damaging your family’s health.
1. Pierro, F. D., Zanvit, A., Nobili, P., Risso, P., & Fornaini, C. (2015). Cariogram outcome after 90 days of oral treatment with Streptococcus salivarius M18 in children at high risk for dental caries: Results of a randomized, controlled study. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dentistry, 107-113.
2. Pierro, F. D., Donato, G., Fomia, F., Adami, T., Careddu, D., C., & Albera, R. (2012). Preliminary pediatric clinical evaluation of the oral probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 in preventing recurrent pharyngitis and/or tonsillitis caused by Streptococcus pyogenes and recurrent acute otitis media. International Journal of General Medicine, 2012(5), 991-997.
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of two little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
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