Happy Halloween Everyone!
This week we explore the taste behind the word “SWEET,” share recommendations for the DAY AFTER, and give alternatives to table sugar.
Patients always ask what I do with my children on Halloween. First, I want to say that I wholeheartedly believe in celebrating life’s triumphs, being silly, and enjoying the feeling of freedom. This is life. For kids, Halloween is just that…utter and absolute freedom: running around being someone else and laughing with your friends.
So, people are surprised to hear that on the night of, I let them eat as much Halloween candy as they want! The week of, I make sure they take their probiotics every day and the day of I increase their vitamins and minerals to keep their immune systems strong given the onslaught of Halloween sweets.
Although it is always hard (I am literally wincing inside) to watch them devour so much sugar in one night, they learn the consequences of their actions with upset stomachs and stuffy noses the next day. In turn, they also feel some sense of autonomy with boundaries in place and memories they can share with their own children one day.
Of course, every child reacts to sugar differently. Your knowledge of what and how sugar affects the body and particularly your child, will determine how you plan out your personal Halloween plans.
The next day we collect the leftover candy and give it away (after they keep their favorite 5 pieces). We have given candy to homeless shelters, to my husband’s workplace, and to others who recycle them for pinatas.
Enjoy your weekend. Have Fun!
BEHIND THE SWEET TASTE
-Vivianne Gantous, LAc, RN
Lying on the surface of our tongues, taste buds are our gateways to the glorious taste of “sweet.” This sensation is associated by many with the happiest times of our lives, saturated with receiving sweet things to celebrate, reward, and cheer us up. As a society, we all agree it feels good.
As we know, the taste of sweet also has a dark side. From conquered territories to being carried on the backs of sugar cane workers to the birth of highly processed foods, it is a powerful flavor that is as much political, addictive and toxic to the body as it is enjoyable to experience.
Enjoying the flavor of sweet is just like anything in life. Just like riding a bicycle on the side of the street rather than in direct oncoming traffic, or being shown how to appreciate wine with food instead of pounding a few glasses without acknowledging its taste; it’s about being aware of the flavor and impact it has on our bodies, wholly.
The key is understanding the difference between how different types of sugars are broken down and learning about better sugar options. Yes, all fruits and vegetables have some forms of glucose, sucrose, and fructose, yet once we produce these sugars into highly processed forms, we produce “too much too soon.”
According to the American Heart Association, 2 tablespoons of added sugar for women and 3 tablespoons for men is recommended, or no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar. If each tablespoon is equivalent to 12 grams of table sugar, we are looking at 24 grams and 36 grams of sugar respectively. This is equivalent to between 1 and 1½ servings of fruit juice, or 1 and 1½ sodas per day.
For children, the American Heart Association recommends:
- Children 4-8 years of age: 4 teaspoons of sugar, which is the equivalent to a little over 1 tablespoon of sugar per day.
- Pre-teen to teenage years: 5-8 teaspoons, which is the equivalent to 1-3 tablespoons per day. (http://life.familyeducation.com/nutritional-information/obesity/64270.html)
A study conducted by the AHA found children as young as 1-3 years consume around 4 tablespoons a day, 4-8 year olds consume an average of 7 tablespoons a day, and by the time they reach 14-18 years old they average about 11 tablespoons per day. This is 3x-4x the recommended allowance of sugar per day.
Glucose is metabolized by just about every cell in the body and insulin is secreted by the pancreas to break it down.
Sucrose is quickly metabolized in your intestines and absorbed into your blood, where it stimulates the release of insulin.
Fructose is metabolized by the liver and causes more work for the body than consuming glucose. The biggest culprit for childhood obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and chronic inflammation, is highly processed fructose. Fructose is metabolized twice as fast as glucose, thus it is absorbed faster by the bloodstream. The key here is that unlike glucose, fructose does NOT cause the release of insulin from the pancreas; there is no manager. For example, after eating 120 calories of glucose, one calorie is stored as fat. After 120 calories of fructose, 40 calories are stored as FAT. Yes, fruits and vegetables have fructose, but it’s the processed fructose, such as high fructose corn syrup and table sugar (50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose), that we need to be aware of.
My favorite alternatives to table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are:
- Pure raw honey: local pollen help us adapt to our environment, promote immunity, and are antimicrobial.
- Stevia: made from herbs, no calories, and ideal for maintaining blood sugar balance and weight loss (but do not confuse with Truvia, which is highly processed and uses GMO plants).
- Date Sugar: high in fiber (which slows metabolism and flushes toxins), good source of potassium, vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
- Coconut Sugar: measures equally to sugar (i.e., 1 cup sugar to 1 cup coconut sugar/palm sugar), and a good source of potassium.
- Blackstrap molasses: most nutritious grade of molasses, moderate glycemic index, rich in iron, and high in calcium and magnesium.
In the end, SUGAR is SUGAR; from the sprouted Ezekiel ancient grain slice of bread to the candy bar, sugar ends up in our bloodstream. The difference is how it is metabolized and how quickly our body needs to assimilate these added calories.
Lastly, if we remember that for children 4-8 years of age, the recommended serving per day of sugar is 1-3 tablespoons, then according to this graph made by Jenny Sugar’s blog:
a pre-schooler/kindergartener/first grader/second grader would ideally eat 3-4 fun sized candy bars.
As most of us can attest to, Halloween night is the antithesis of moderation: a tradition of surprise, comedy, and lots of sugar.
After the night is over, enclosed are some helpful suggestions by Crystal Holmes, Boundless Well-Being’s patient advocate.
THE DAY AFTER
– Crystal Holmes: Boundless Well-Being Patient Ally
So, after the fun is over, the costumes off, and the kids have finally settled into bed after the sugar rush, what do you do with all that candy? That enormous pumpkin, bag, or pillow case full of sugar?
Here are some ideas you might want to try.
- The Switch Witch. A friendly witch who comes to your house once the children are asleep and exchanges leftover mounds of candy for a new toy.
- Participate in a candy exchange. Some dentists and orthodontists (dentists who specialize in braces) offer candy exchanges. You turn in some candy and get healthy treats in exchange. Or you turn in some candy, and they pay you $1 per pound. They donate the candy to soup kitchens or to troops overseas.
- Wouldn’t it be cool if some of your candy went halfway around the world? Your Halloween candy could be included in care packages that are sent to soldiers serving their country far from home. Here are two organizations that ship packages to the troops. (Heat-resistant candy only. Chocolate melts, you know! And don’t forget to include a handwritten letter of support to really put a smile on a soldier’s face!)
- Try reverse trick-or-treating! With a parent, make a trip to one or more local charities that accept candy donations. You’ll feel great, and you’ll sweeten someone else’s day too. Some ideas include your local Ronald McDonald House, nursing homes, food pantries, children’s hospitals, veterans’ homes, or women’s shelters.
- Ask your parents if you can exchange your candy for something else — like a book or a toy. Make it fun by using a scale to weigh your stash — for example, maybe you could earn a book for every pound of candy you trade in.
- Reduce by recycling. If you have a birthday or other party coming up, offer to use your candy to fill up goody bags.
- Buy fun chocolate molds at a craft store, melt down your extra chocolate bars, pour into the molds, let cool, and voilà — decorative, delicious gifts!
- Glue candy pieces to an unfinished wooden picture frame (you can buy them at the craft store). Add a photo, and you’ve got a really sweet present for someone special.
- Use the candy to fill a piñata for someone who has a fall or winter birthday.
- Donate your candy to…science? Yep, you can do lots of great candy experiments at home using Skittles, Lifesavers, Starbursts, M&Ms, and more. Plus, you just might want to see what happens when you leave a gummy bear in water…
- Create a board game using candy as pieces. Or you can use candy in a sweet game of checkers or — dare we say it? — Candyland.
- Build a candy city. With some glue (ask a parent for help if using a hot glue gun), some toothpicks, and a whole lot of imagination, you can design and construct a scene that even your Legos will envy. And it’s never too early to start planning this year’s holiday gingerbread house.
- Send it to work with your mom or dad. That’ll really make it disappear fast!