Opinion Column

Handing out toothbrushes on Halloween is goofy

By Bianca Bujan

FOTOLIA

FOTOLIA

Most parents today seem to be unduly fixated on enforcing healthy eating habits in their children, and for the most part it makes sense. With an increase in food allergies in children, and childhood obesity a constantly growing concern, it’s no wonder kale-laden smoothies and organic, free-range, grain-fed poultry have become the latest healthy-eating trends.

 

But while I agree that parents should be more mindful of what they put into their children’s bodies, I don’t agree that completely abolishing anything that is deemed indulgent from a child’s diet is beneficial to their well-being either. On special occasions like Halloween, a little indulgence should be allowed.

As Halloween approaches, parents seem to be searching for candy alternatives to dole out to trick-or-treaters. Instead of chocolate bars, candy corn, and tootsie pops, parents seem to be opting for glow sticks, toothbrushes and plastic toys as their “treats” of choice, and I am completely opposed.

Halloween elicits fond childhood memories of tacky homemade costumes, gooey pumpkin guts squished through tiny fingers, and an overconsumption of sugary sweets. Each year I counted down the days, anticipating the ghoulish festivities and fun with friends.

Growing up, my “treats” consisted of an amalgamation of healthy snacks - ants on a log (peanut butter and raisins on celery), and bananas in milk (sprinkled with brown sugar) were part of my snack-time repertoire.

But when Halloween came around, all bets were off, and I was free to indulge in any sweet treats I desired. My friends and I would dump out our overflowing pillowcases of candy, sort them by brand, make trades, and dig in. It was magical. And once the day came to a close, my candy was tucked away.

Now that I’m a parent, I can understand the disdain for Halloween and all of the cavity-causing, sugar-high inducing treats that are dished out to my sweet little ghouls and goblins. I despise the money-grab that is decoration and costume purchasing, and the post-pumpkin carving cleanup is nearly unbearable. But my kids love Halloween, and I love my kids, so I grin and bear it.

On Halloween night, my children are allowed to eat an allotted number of candies, and the rest are stored in a hidden spot. Leftovers are given out in small portions for dessert, shared with friends and family, and even used for advent calendars for Christmas.

It’s not called trick-or-eat healthy, because that’s not the point. As long as some boundaries are set, I say let them enjoy their sweets on this one special day. Let kids enjoy the same simple pleasures on Halloween that we enjoyed throughout our childhood years.

Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, freelance writer, and marketing consultant. She tweets at @bitsofbee and blogs at bitsofbee.com