Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
31 Oct

Trick or Treat: Yea or Nay?

halloweenThere are menacing spirits about tonight. Truly horrifying, ghastly ghouls in shiny, enticing packages. Resting ominously in bowls, baskets and bags, they await their jolly little prey. With the power of the Pied Piper, they will lead all manner of small witches, scarecrows, Spidermen, vampires, princesses, cowboys and gypsies toward ebullient, screeching glee, then sugar shock and moody mayhem this evening. Dastardly little devils, aren’t they…?

Chocolates, lollipops, Tootsie Rolls, M&Ms,
Pixy Stix, Bubble Gum, candy corn and Pez!
Jaw breakers, Milk Duds, Jolly Ranchers, caramels,
Star Burst, licorice, Kit Kat, and gummi bears!
Mounds, Nut Rolls, Laffy Taffy, Life Savers,
Reese’s, Skittles, Milky Way and Now or Laters!
What, finally, should a Primal parent do
In the midst of this Halloween hullabaloo?

Corny fun (we never said we were poets) and jokes aside, Halloween is one of those days when it’s tough being a parent battling societal pressure and cultural practice. You don’t want to ostracize your kids from the group or deny them fun, but you also feel you have the right and responsibility to keep them healthy. Some parents evoke the Big Picture perspective and choose to let the little ones have their full fun for a single day. Others elect to maneuver consumption toward less sugar-loaded options. Still some forgo treats altogether or simply skip the holiday. Just like our dessert post suggested earlier this week, Halloween (like other holidays and celebrations) calls for each parent to use his/her personal judgment and make an individual decision. From some angle, any choice could be construed as a compromise (of fun, health, etc.), but that’s the stuff of life. Ultimately, we each decide how our families celebrate the holiday (if we observe it at all) and what role treats will play in that enjoyment. Whatever choice we each make, the holiday presents a great opportunity to talk about nutrition (the good, the bad, the occasional and the ugly) with the little monsters.

In truth, trick-or-treat needn’t be a full-on candy gorge or simply nada, and Halloween can be more than just a sugar rush. One Primal-minded idea for celebrating the day? Whatever your choice on the treats, consider engaging the “non-food” elements of the holiday with creative cooking, pumpkin carving, decoration making, storytelling, night walks, and costume parties. (Getting back to basics uncovers the real fun anyway, right?) For more tips, check out our post from last year on putting together a Primal-inspired party and treat options. Our “bartering” suggestion (letting your kids trade crap candy for more healthy treats, toys and privileges you provide) got the most raves. It’s a way some families have their cake and eat it too, to use a sugar-inspired metaphor.

Finally, if you’re looking for more alternative treats (to hand out and/or exchange your kids’ collected loot with), check out the truly amazing list of (food and non-food) treat ideas at Green Halloween. (A thanks and hats off to MDA member PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess for the forum link!)

Now we’ll ask you: How do you handle Halloween? Take the poll and let us know what you think in the comment board.

If you’re a parent (and if you aren’t, answer as if you were), what’s your approach this Halloween?

View Results

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Thanks, everybody! Whatever your take, enjoy the holiday and have a great weekend.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I chose numero uno. Tonight myself im going to pig out on munkey nuts. My one weakness and the one time of the year I allow myself.. :)

    Bigfat wrote on October 31st, 2009
  2. I hosting a halloween party, and have made as many primal treats as possible. Dark chocolate covered berries, pumpkin dip with coconut flour cookies and apple monster mouths (slivered almonds for teeth) to dip in it, almond butter dark chocolate truffles, and pecan almond monster crunch. (made with a splash of maple syrup and dried berries for color!)

    I bought some non edible halloween stuff and will be trading my boys for their candy after they get to pick one treat out of their bags.

    lil_earthmomma wrote on October 31st, 2009
    • RECIPES, PLEASE!!!

      Carrie B wrote on September 24th, 2011
  3. I love the holiday, and am fully in support of treats! :)

    That being said, I’ll admit it’s somewhat easier here – our son doesn’t even particularly care for chocolate, as a rule. It simplifies things. He’ll probably have a few pieces of chocolate, and a few pieces of candy tonight, but he doesn’t tend to gorge. Also, he’s very much ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ – once we put it away, he doesn’t ask for it much. We’ll let him save his favorites and nibble on those as he pleases.
    Our daughter is much younger and it’s easier to keep things out of her reach and her mouth, although she’d gorge on a bagful if she had the opportunity. We try to NOT give her that chance. XD

    Beth wrote on October 31st, 2009
  4. As a mom I struggle with this “holiday” every year. Why are we anti-candy people the bad guys or weirdos? Isn’t it strange that in my area moms who let their kids gorge are the good moms and the ones who opt for homemade nut mixes and dried fruit are the weirdos. Yet, I struggle and relent. Maybe I want to be liked too much?

    Hiit Mama - Meredith wrote on October 31st, 2009
    • In a few years, you’ll still be able to weight your kids on the scale at the pediatric clinic ;)

      Grok wrote on October 31st, 2009
  5. I’m lucky. Halloween is easy to ignore if you don’t have kids! :)

    BarbeyGirl wrote on October 31st, 2009
  6. the Non-primal husband and I don’t have kids yet, but he hates the holiday with a passion unbridled. Our eventual solution is to let our kids get costumes and dress up at home, buy only what we’re willing to let them to eat, and chill at home with the family watching movies like Young Frankenstein and Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.

    Kate wrote on October 31st, 2009
  7. I love pumpkin seeds roasted with sea salt. I think of them as my main Halloween treat.

    warren wrote on October 31st, 2009
  8. I have Celiac Disease and we recently went “primal” in the meat eating sense after years of vegetarianism..so aside from always having issues with the massive amounts of sugar and processed oils we now have gluten to fear. It is easier since only one of our girls is of trick or treating age (just barely) and has a real passion for my primal protein bars and primal pumpkin cookies (which I’m making today) however we did buy a few dark chocolate (less bad) candies to trade out since our oldest is so excited to go trick or treating. We’re aiming for a compromise and living in Chicago (apt living) we have no trick-or-treaters and the available spots to hit up with our girls are nice and few :)

    Elaine wrote on October 31st, 2009
  9. For Halloween enjoyment this year, I made some what I call “Primal Butter Cups,” basically a take on my old favorite Reese’s PB cups of Halloween past. Just melt down some really dark 85% G&B choc and pour a little into muffin papers, put in the freezer for 5 minutes, take out and plop a little almond butter in each, then pour the rest of the melted chocolate until the muffin paper is full and freeze for 10 minutes. Way better than the old way and no guilt! Happy Halloween!

    El Zombito wrote on October 31st, 2009
    • I love the Primal Peanut Butter Cups!

      Cole wrote on October 31st, 2009
    • I need to try these. They sound divine!

      Lisa wrote on November 4th, 2009
    • Why not 100% peanut butter instead of almond butter?

      Brian Kozmo wrote on October 9th, 2010
  10. Oooh… I ought to make some of those. I’ve made peanut butter cups in the past and they were AWESOME.

    We’re going pretty Primal this year. We’ve got nowhere, to go, so we’re going to stay at home, eat mostly-healthy foods (well, the non-cavemen are running the show, so bread and beans are a “must”) and watch a movie or two. I’m cooking, though, so at least I can make sure that the food is as healthy as possible.

    GeriMorgan wrote on October 31st, 2009
  11. I figure the candy my son can’t finish tonight can be brought to my husband’s work on Monday. That way my little one can enjoy Halloween, but there will be no wasting or nibbling on the candy the rest of the year. He is only 2 so I guess that makes it easier. Happy Halloween!

    2stetzkos wrote on October 31st, 2009
  12. Number 2 all the way. My kids eat a very healthy diet, I dont’ want them gorging and feeling the sugar demon for 2 days post. I let them enjoy the treats, then ration out a weeks worth and get rid of the rest. After I enjoy a little treat myself.

    Robbie wrote on October 31st, 2009
  13. I just ate a little box of milk duds. I forgot how long they take to eat. I’m with number two for myself and for the cavekids. Costumes are fun, candy tastes good… but take it easy.

    Caveman Sam wrote on October 31st, 2009
  14. Our kids have such a strong negative reaction to anything with refined sugar that we believe it would be a huge mistake to allow even one night. I’ll stick with kids that can spend the entire morning enjoying windfall apples and still ask for seconds of a chicken broccoli casserole at lunch. On another note, not one of our kids that are eating solids are at all fussy eaters. They’ll eat anything and everything, and LOVE their morning 1/2 teaspoonful of cod liver oil to the point that they remind US that we need to take it. The only fussy eater is the 1yr old (just turned) and he just flat prefers momma’s milk … though next up so far is pork rinds and chicken broth.

    Scott wrote on October 31st, 2009
  15. There’s a holiday today?

    gilliebean wrote on October 31st, 2009
  16. I don’t mind contributing to the sugar pushing custom. It is all a part of the “big picture” perspective. I even ate a couple fun size bars to see what candy still tastes like. Not bad, but I instantly got mild heartburn.

    Michael wrote on October 31st, 2009
  17. My kids are 12 and 14, so there’s no sneaking around with giving away or throwing away their candy. I have little control over what they eat, and unfortunately they have been pretty resistant to our transition to a more Primal way of eating. Dinners are the only time they’re eating very Primally. I voted #1, but I wish the candy would only last one day! I’m looking at a month of a candy bowl sitting on the counter. Luckily the only candy that tempts me are those that are mostly or all chocolate.

    Annika wrote on October 31st, 2009
  18. i happened on these sites the other day – not soon enough to order stuff for this year…

    http://www.greenhalloween.org/

    and

    http://www.recyclingiscool.com/Green-Halloween_c_2.html

    otherwise, we gave out justen’s nut butter packets and organic lollipops.

    the halloween fairy-witch will be paying a visit to our house to trade the junk food for a surprise toy. i don’t like the idea of more toys, but i like the idea of candy even less.

    jennifer wrote on October 31st, 2009
  19. Halloween was a special time for me as a child. I will always have a sort of nostalgia when it starts to get dark on October 31st, but those days are long gone. I can’t believe I’ve come to this point now that I think about it, but I have a much stronger urge to eat a brick of Kerrygold Butter as my Halloween treat than stuffing my mouth with skittles and M&Ms (laughs*).

    Happy Halloween Everyone! Candy-vores or not!

    Matt wrote on October 31st, 2009
  20. Hersheys Special Dark. All natural and at least some antioxidants. Seemed to be the lesser of many evils.

    glorth2 wrote on October 31st, 2009
  21. I’m single. No children. No worries. :-)

    Michael wrote on October 31st, 2009
  22. halloween also happens to be my birthday, and i’ve pigged out on chocolate every year, and i’ll never stop. my mom would let me go nuts for one day, and then that was that. i would eat so much that i didn’t even want to look at candy for weeks after. think that is far better than those parents who ration out chocolate for their kids, which after halooween ends up lasting for weeks, thus creating a candy habit. so, i say the one-day pig out is the best.
    this is the first year i did a pig-out having been primal for nearly 6 months. first, my pig out was SO LAME – I did really badly, compared to other years, i terms of volume-of-chocolate-consumed. and today i feel SICK. like, i feel like i have a hangover, and food poisining, no joke. so for me, this is just an even bigger reminder as to how great i feel living primally, and how crap i feel when i eat crap.

    gwen wrote on November 1st, 2009
  23. I like the holiday but didn’t find it hard to stay away from the sweet treats. I admit, I had a few, but overall I was able to stay away! It’s easy when you don’t have kids…mostly I just ate radishes :)

    Joel M wrote on November 1st, 2009
  24. It’s the bad habits every other day of the year that cause the real problems. One day of fun never hurt anyone, and besides sometimes kids have to gorge one time and get a belly ache to deter them from ever doing it again(my brother knows from experience). I love Halloween and I hate that it is becoming as villainous as all other holidays. Better the candy is associated with one night of fun and an earned treat than an everyday appeasement. I’m for Halloween and candy one night a year.

    Rachel wrote on November 1st, 2009
  25. No kids here, but my wife and I handed out halloween-themed pencils and crayons this year. Kids seemed to like them.

    Stagger Lee wrote on November 1st, 2009
  26. it was depressing watching these poor obese kids in our hood trick-or-treating.

    marci wrote on November 1st, 2009
  27. Maybe I’m just lucky, but my kids were so excited by the whole process of trick-or-treating that they forgot to actually eat the sweets. 24 hours later, they’re still sitting in their bags!

    PaleoMum wrote on November 1st, 2009
  28. I let my kids go trick or treating with their friends and then I let them pick 5 things out of their bag they really want and let them eat it with their friends at the party. Then when we get home, I give them a choice, you can have your candy OR this (usually a toy they have been pinning over for a few months) They have such a belly ache from the candy they glad pick to the toy. Then the next time the ask for candy, all I have to do is remind them how sick they felt on Halloween and they stop arguing and opt for a primal treat.

    Wendee wrote on November 1st, 2009
  29. I’m with Scott. Our kids didn’t do Halloween this year. It was more of a group decision than anything else. They thought it kind of pointless given that they “don’t eat sugar anyway”. I made some roasted pumpkin seeds and they were happy.

    I don’t see much of a problem with it if your kids can truly just eat candy once, but my kids start craving sugar when they have some and they, nor do we, even want to go there. Also, the flu is going around here and we want to keep their immune systems in fighting shape.

    I did notice that hockey practice this morning was especially painful for my youngest daughter’s team. She was fine, actually, she looked like a superstar compared to all of the other little ones with sugar hangovers.

    Tara wrote on November 1st, 2009
  30. No kids here, but I imagine I might let them go all out once a year. After all, what better way for them to learn the lesson that sugar wreaks havoc on the body than having them experience it first hand? Then again, you never know what you will do in a situation until that time actually comes.

    As for me and my fiance, we managed to avoid candy this year. It helps that he hates the holiday, and we didn’t find ourselves in a candy-laden situation. Ok, we did have a few bites of a brownie a la mode at a friend’s birthday dinner Saturday night :)
    We also carved a pumpkin on Friday night (I am foreign-born and it was my first time doing this fun activity!), and I soaked and roasted the seeds with salt for the following day.

    Earlier in the day, I was getting a manicure and kids were trickling in and out trick-or-treating. There were quite a few with costumes that were either hand-me-downs or ones from the previous year, cause wow did I see some “chubby” fairies and Transformers!!

    MariaNYC wrote on November 2nd, 2009
  31. We let our kids pick out a few of their favorite pieces and then negotiate (good skills we are teaching them here for life…) on a PRICE for the rest of the candy. We haggle a bit for fun and then pay them and we the candy is then taken to work for some other poor soul to deal with! The kids get to go shopping with their money the next day and pick out their own toy, etc. Works great!!

    mustangsally wrote on November 2nd, 2009
  32. We had a “Holistic Halloween” party here for our little ones. It was great and we focused on the harvest, fall, dress up side of things. The kids carved a big pumpkin, decorated little ones, went on a “hay ride” in a wagon in our yard, and wore their costumes. We even did bobbing for apples, albeit in their own individual bowls (fun in the age of swine flu). We did potluck and all of our guests labeled their dishes so folks could make good food choices for themselves. We did have a pie and a cake, but the soups and stews, veggies and dips were the hit of the day, so everyone was pretty primal overall. We didn’t have any candy nor trick or treating… no one missed a thing. Afterwards, we did take our daughter out to three of our neighbors homes to “trick treat” as she says. She was allowed to decide how she would deal with her candy – she can either eat one piece each day until it is gone or she can give it up to the Switch Witch in exchange for a toy. She is still deciding if she will eat it or the Switch Witch will take it…honestly, I think she may have already forgotten about it. As far as giving treats, we did give out fair trade organic mini dark chocolate bars. I figure some kids parents are loving them at least!

    laurie wrote on November 2nd, 2009
  33. Mmm I always live it up on Halloween! And by live it up, I mean have a couple peanut butter cups. It’s pretty easy to get full on those rich treats, especially since they taste so intensely sweet since eating primally.

    Lauren B wrote on November 2nd, 2009
  34. I’m fortunate that my kids have learnt over the years that they get ill when they overdo the sugar!

    My youngest was able to track down the fact that every time she O.D’d on sugar, (Halloween, Easter or Christmas) she got sore throat and ears… she doesn’t bother any more.

    :0)

    Judith wrote on November 4th, 2009
  35. Moderation! I don’t believe that the “no sugar ever” rule works. The boys go “trick or treating”, I go through the stuff, they have a couple pieces, candy bag goes bye-bye after a week! They never ask about it, they shared the tradition with friends, and candy/sugar stay at a minimum – then GONE!

    Jennifer wrote on November 5th, 2009

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