Meant to blog about this last week…just so darn busy.
There was a TV advertisement that was running last week that was recommending that people give out sugar-free candies at Halloween. I forget who was running the ad. Probably some dental association using reverse psychology on us like the tobacco companies with their no smoking campaigns. In the advertisements, they showed some cute kids brushing their teeth (good! brush up kiddies!) and they also showed a guy greeting trick-or-treaters with sugar free mints. What a killjoy. Even I wanted to egg this guy’s fictitious house.
What the heck is going on? When I was growing up, we never really had sugar in the house. We are more of a salty/savory household. We did occasionally have ice cream but my dad could take care of that in a sitting or 2 and I was lucky to get my spoon into the container (and alas, I now have trouble digesting high fat dairy…so all’s well). We didn’t have dessert with dinner unless we went out to eat. One time when we were in Lake Tahoe at a casino restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet and my dad thought it would be funny to let me eat 3 chocolate mousses. My mom didn’t think the trail of vomit out of the casino was that amusing. I’m not sure what they were thinking; as a kid, I was a notorious gagger, well known among the relatives. I’ve barfed in some of the finest places in town (OK, they weren’t that fine but they were many).
Anyhoo, the sweets were a rare indulgence. We NEVER had candy in the house. “Cavities” were the de facto reason for the lack of sugar in the Hamilton household. So while my parents weren’t religious about the sugar thing, it just was not part of our daily lives (much like my life today). Today, I just don’t buy the stuff and that keeps me from eating it. It’s a strategy that worked when I was a kid and it works (most of the time) today.
But when it came to Halloween, the candy was eaten. It was eaten in massive quantity until stomach aches commenced. Because that is what you do on Halloween. I’m still of the mind that if you absolutely restrict something, it makes the kids just want it more. If it’s seen as a rare treat, they appreciate it when they get it.
I may be a bit biased because Halloween is a favorite holiday of mine (because it doesn’t require one to do something one does not want to do), but sugar free candy, especially breath mints, suck all the fun out of Halloween. Also, the non-sugar sweeteners can cause stomach turbulence. Yay…abdominal cramping.
I understand people being concerned about childhood obesity. I see kids classes taking place at the gym and it seems like a good idea to me. Too much time in front of the TV or computer can be a problem (again, I have no kids so it’s my unqualified opinion). But I think we need to find ways to combat these kinds of issues and still let kids be kids. Halloween is one of the few days out of the year where I find it totally acceptable to let your kids get all hopped up on sugar and run around buck wild. Set rules on how much of the candy they can eat (and give the rest to a food bank) and make sure they brush before bed, but sugar free mints? Are you kidding me?