I heard a story recently, one of those "friend of a friend of a friend" deals. It was about Halloween and it was shocking. Not "vampires and ghouls and blood-pouring-from-eye-sockets" shocking, rather "you've got to be kidding me" shocking. I'll get to what I heard in a second, but first a little background on Halloween.
It's supposed to be fun, right? Sure it is. I can still remember those October 31st days, racing home from school, bursting through the front door, screaming at the top of my lungs that I was "putting on my costume... now!" Of course it was only 3:30 in the afternoon and my mom would have none of that. Moms. Geesh!
Then my dad arrived home from work. And I'd complain to him over the dinner table that Mom was unfair as he tugged away at his bread and shoved forkful after forkful of homemade tomato-sauce-laden spaghetti into his mouth. Invariably he told me that I should listen to my mom. Dads. Geesh!
Dinner finished, sun setting, costume on. And life, at that exact instant when I became a princess or mermaid or witch, was never, ever better.
Back to the shocking story I heard recently. Apparently this friend of a friend knows a couple who won't let their children dress up and celebrate Halloween. Shocking? Yes. Tragic?Definitely. Their reason? Sugar.
My first reaction when I heard this was, "You've got to be kidding me." Then I thought about it and the more I thought about it, I concluded that this couple (who is probably not alone in this wonderful world of ours) had a valid concern.
We've all heard sugar described as "white poison." And most of the candy our children receive on Halloween certainly is replete with sugar. So how do we mitigate the effect of "white poison" with one of the funnest (not a word, but I think it's appropriate here!) days of the year? We do it with balance.
Speaking solely as a dental hygienist, I see the effects of sugar almost daily. Sugary sodas cause tooth decay. And so do a plethora of other, easily avoidable treats. If we can balance the bad with, let's face it, the not-so-bad, why can't Halloween remain fun for everyone?
If you're interested in adopting some healthier Halloween practices, here are some ideas.
Halloween foods to "selectively" eliminate from your child's loot bag:
- Any sticky, hard, chewy or crunchy foods
- Caramel, taffy, licorice, jelly beans, bubble gum
Halloween foods to eat:
- Soft and easy to chew melt-in-your-mouth candy and chocolates
- Sliced apples
At the end of the day (any day - not just Halloween!), one of the best tips I can offer is this: Have your child chew sugarless gum with xylitol after eating candy. Chewing will increase salivary flow in the mouth, helping to wash the sugar off the teeth. The xylitol in the gum also helps control the bacteria that cause decay. (Another great complement to this solution is sealants. You can find out more about sealants HERE.)
Halloween falls on Sunday this year. That means my kids won't be racing home from school like I once did to bug their mom to let them put on their costumes right away: I'm certain they'll be bugging me the moment they rise from bed Sunday morning! Oh, joy.
Let's be honest; Halloween isn't just for kids. That's why I'm prepared and, defiant as ever, I'll be putting on my costume a full day early this year. (Sorry, Mom.)
If you don't believe me, please come out and see for yourself. I'll be at the "Spooktacular Event" at Vic Johnson Arena in Streetsville on October 30th, from 10am until 1pm. Yes, surprise, surprise, I'm not dressing up as a dental hygienist. (I do enough of that during the week.) On behalf of Gentle Touch Dental Hygiene Services I'll be giving away free sugarless gum and sugarless lollipops (both with xylitol), pencils and balloons. The pencils and balloons are sugarless too. Chew the gum. Suck the lollipops. Don't eat the pencils and balloons. Bad for the teeth. Shocking for the digestion. And no fun at all. Unlike Halloween. Fun, fun, fun - the way it's supposed to be!
Have a Happy Halloween.