I draw the line at homemade marshmallows. A recent blog post insisted you could make them healthily and easily. Marshmallows are sugar. And no amount of pasture-raised gelatin powder is going to change that in my mind. I realize we are fighting a nationwide battle against sugar. Hell, I’m fighting a war against sugar in my own household. But on Halloween my children will be allowed to eat an unhealthy amount of sugar.
Aside from being a pagan holiday, Halloween is basically an excuse to dress up, play pretend, and gorge ourselves on candy. Still, as I consistently remind my daughter, “too many treats can make your stomach upset.” There will be a limit. We generally tell her she can pick two or three treats from her bucket to eat that day and each day after Trick-Or-Treat. Then after several days, the hope is she’ll forget about the bucket and we’ll eat it ourselves, bring it to the office to foist it on unsuspecting coworkers, or throw it away.
As far as I’m concerned, we don’t need to have Halloween candy buy-back programs at dentists’ offices to reduce our children’s candy consumption. This teaches them what, that if they go out and collect an even greater amount of candy, they can turn some of it in for cash and still consume as much as they originally planned on? What if we just taught our children that there should be limits to how much sugar you consume? That there are consequences to eating too much sugar. My three-year-old understands this concept so I think the capacity for kids to understand limits is there if we take the time to teach them.
As a kid, my mother did an incredible job of keeping us away from excess sugar. We were not allowed to drink soda or eat sugary cereals, except on vacation. To this day, I associate Florida with Lucky Charms and Trix. I survived a childhood mostly devoid of Fruit Roll Ups, Twinkies, and other sugar-coated nutritionless garbage and my kids will too. By saving “treats” for special occasions, my mom made them feel like real treats instead of just regular snacks. I don’t recall my parents limiting our Halloween candy consumption, but I do recall my mom telling us stories about how she once ate too much candy and got really sick to her stomach (which may have been entirely made up but did the trick of making us think twice about it) and of her sister saving all of her candy until the next year when it was expired and disgusting (presumably this story was to tell us to eat a little bit at a time- not exactly sure).
I’ll happily place a teal pumpkin on my doorstep and provide non-food options for kids who have allergies, but my kids are going to go trick-or-treating and collect some candy, take it home and eat some. Stomach ache or no stomach ache. And truthfully, I don’t even like marshmallows very much, but if I was going to eat one it would be a fluffy, store-bought, sugar-filled taste of childhood.