Thursday, October 30, 2008

Healthy Halloween

Halloween has been celebrated since ancient times and the Druids, an ancient order of Celtic priests in Britain, believed that on the night before November 1 (Oct. 31), Samhain, the lord of the dead, called all the wicked spirits together. Since the Druids were afraid of these spirits, they chose that day to sacrifice, hoping they would be protected.

During the middle ages, the Roman Catholic Church decided to allow new converts to maintain some of their pagan (Druid) feasts. But now they were switched to "Christian" feasts so they would pray to and remember the deaths of saints. November 1 is"All Saints Day" and October 31 was supposed to be "All Hallowed Evening".

Modern Halloween and trick or treating comes from Ireland. Irish farmers went from house to house begging for food to be used at the village Halloween celebration. They promised good luck to those who gave them good food and a trick to those who refused.

For little goblins and witches in the United States, Halloween is a night to dress up and go trick or treating. Somehow it has turned into a candy nightmare for parents as the kids compete to see how much candy they can accumulate in one bag. 73% of Americans participate in Halloween and the average family spends $40.00 on costumes, candy and decorations. (It might be less this year with the scary economy!)

To keep kids from gorging on unhealthy, high fructose corn syrup candy, it takes a little planning.

Most guides say to give away unused candy. Remember, candy is junk food, so send it to the dump instead. Why poison someone else because you feel guilty throwing away candy. It's not actual food, so get it out of your mind that it is a food option. Of course candy is part of the fun of Halloween but once the night is over, most kids won't notice if the bag is gone. Let little Johnny pick out several of his favorites to be saved for the next week of school lunches and toss the rest.

If you think the candy is not a big deal, check this out:

  • Snickers Snack Size: 72 calories, 4g fat (that's the little ones)
  • Twizzlers Snack Size: 133 calories, 1g fat
  • Butterfinger Snack Size: 100 calories, 4g fat
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cup: 80 calories, 5g fat (no-one eats just one of the cups)
  • Milk Way Snack Size: 77 calories, 3g fat
  • Candy Corn: 3.5 calories per kernel (it's colored high fructose corn syrup)
  • Small pouch (0.5 oz) Sweetarts: 50 calories, 0g fat
  • Fun Size M's: 70 calories, 3g fat
(For those people who saw me eat three small snicker snacks today at work, do as I say, not as I do)

So give your kids a couple of pieces, eat one yourself and trash the rest! Don't keep it around the house and don't take it to work!


tracy said...

Heh, heh, And i thought i was calorie obsessed! Happy Haunting!

Thanks for a fascinating post!

tracy said...

ps the fun size Milky Way is 75 calories...!
:)'s to you, Dr. Brayer!

Toni Brayer MD said...

tracy: However many calories, it is a tiny bite and too many for me. hahaha

Anonymous said...

While this is very informative (and sad, because now I can't say that I don't know what I'm eating) but I just noticed one thing. One section of this entry says that the snacks are "high-fructose corn syrup laden" and, while this is probably accurate, I would just like to say that high-fructose corn syrup is bad in large amounts, it is equally bad as sugar is. The nutritional values are the same, and high-fructose corn syrup is not unnatural, it is, as the title implies, made from corn. (see This is very heartening for me, as I thought i would have to boycott all of my favorite products that contained it, since they'd kill me. But no, its equal to sugar, so I won't die, though I probably should cut back.

L said...

Doc -- "Samhain" is Irish for "the end of summer". There is no god, spirit, or personage by that name, as far as I know.

Nathaniel said...

Very worthwhile piece of writing, thank you for the post.
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