So Halloween is tomorrow. You know that that means. Costumes, kids trick-or-treating, and CANDY (dun dun dun *scream sound effect initiated*)
I have never, in all of my life, seen so much hype about the dangers of letting your kids have too much Halloween candy than I have this season. Articles instructing folks to hand out apples in place of Twizzlers. Fear mongering blog posts that hype up concern for kids getting a “sugar high.” What. the actual F. is going on here?
Two words. Wellness Diet. The wellness diet refers to the “clean eating” wellness fad that has swept over the nation, particularly in the last five to ten years. You know what I’m talking about. The green smoothies. The açaí bowls. (Ok let’s be real here. Raise your hand if you’re just not into those damn açaí bowls, no matter how pretty they may be *raises hand slowly*). The demonization of processed food. The (terribly faulty) research linking sugar consumption to cancer. Wellness is the new Atkins/South Beach/Grapefruit diet.
It is genius marketing if you think about it. People were catching on to the fact that diets don’t work. So the term “diet” was switched out for “lifestyle change” and-ta-da! A whole new market of folks in fear to prey upon.
The wellness fad is a wolf in sheeps clothing if you ask me. After all, diets that suggest replacing all meals with grapefruit a la’ the 1980s are pretty blatantly bad for health. The wellness diet isn’t blatant. It is subtle in it’s tone. The word diet is not used, hence our negative associations with diets are not provoked. This allows the weight cycling and obsessive thoughts/guilt to creep in slowly, insidiously even. “How could it be bad to track my macros all day long? I’m not dieting I’m taking care of myself right?”
So the situation now looks something like this. We are smack-dab in the middle of the wellness dieting hoopla. Halloween is upon us. Halloween is a time when candy is abundant. Enter: hysteria.
Here’s the thing though. Lean in close because this part is important- Candy SHOULD NOT be something that we avoid or fear! Research shows that stress, not dietary choices, has the largest impact on our overall health. You know what is really stressful? Obsessing about which foods needs to be avoided and which foods are “legal” at have at the moment. In fact, stress and guilt around eating has been shown to cause the very same symptoms that we typically associate to food sensitivities or intolerances.
Health, true holistic health, means taking care of your mind, body, and soul. The healthiest thing that you can do for your soul is to celebrate this holiday in the most joyful way that you can. Soul health, therefore, involves eating the candy. Allowing yourself to have fun-yes fun-with your food. Eating for pleasure (imagine that).
Your kid’s soul health involves candy as well. If you want to promote truly healthy behaviors in your kids, don’t try to limit their candy. Allow them to have it. Talk about how yummy it tastes with them. Do not demonize it. The best lesson that you can teach them today is that all food fits, and candy is not some glistening “off-limits” “naughty” treat. It is just candy. It is food. It tastes good. Period.
In summation: leave the scaring to the ghosts and goblins today. Eat the damn candy.
-Dr. Colleen Reichmann