The conversation turned fairly quickly to candy; since four of our group of five are new to the area this year, we wanted to know if we should expect trick or treaters, and how many. The one woman who has been here a few years (Kristin) said that she wasn't sure, it varies, and in any case, she doesn't give out candy. She said she does raisins, apples, or toothbrushes. And suddenly, our group was divided.
- Kristin is vegan and a bit of a health nut, so she doesn't like the idea of giving children candy.
- Adam and Justin said that giving kids toothbrushes is a great idea in theory, but is pointless in practice because it is a waste of money - kids will just throw it out and go to every other house for candy.
- Minal is from India and is not used to the American Halloween tradition, and was a little confused, and thus undecided.
I thought about last year, when I was only a few months into my commitment to losing weight, and how tough Halloween was. I fought it as hard as I could - I even made a note card for my desk next to the bucket of candy I bought for my students to help me keep my hands out of it. It had calorie counts, in a way: one mini Snickers bar = 10 minutes of Wii Boxing. This year, though, it hasn't even crossed my mind. Maybe because I go to Target a lot less and am thus not as tempted by the holiday-themed aisle.
Given my plateau for the past few months, I've been trying to focus on NSVs as much as possible, and not eating any Halloween candy has been a huge victory for me. It's so easy to be a secret eater at Halloween - buying a few giant sized bags of candy in July is suspicious, but towards the end of October, no one seems to question the recipient. In Chicago, I lived in a second floor rear apartment with no doorbell - I never saw a single trick or treater - but I certainly bought my share of candy bars. Dump them all into a bowl like I was getting ready to give it out, then sit on the couch, shelling and popping them into my mouth like peanuts, watching "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and reeling in the intoxicating sugar high.
Fortunately, gorging myself on candy isn't at the front of my thoughts right now, but I still have the festivities in mind. I'm thinking mostly about kids, and in which ways Halloween is different now from when my parents were young, or even from when I was a kid. Kristin (and a few commenters on yesterday's blog post) said that a local dentist offers kids a few dollars per bag for turning in their candy, and again, we found ourselves torn. Given the rates of obesity in the United States, it was surprising that dentists are willing to intervene, but not pediatricians. Kristin thought it was a great idea - again, from a healthy food stance. And the boys disagreed with her again, saying it's one day a year and it's part of being a kid.
My own trick or treat experience is limited - I can only remember a few Halloweens - but of course, we loved it. There were no rules governing our candy, at least none I remember, or that were strictly enforced. I doubt it lasted more than a few days, and then I'd get into my sisters' bags. Lisa more than Katie - Lisa never really liked candy, so I don't think she noticed or cared if the pieces went missing.
Since I started losing weight, I've thought a lot about my own future children - wondering how to raise healthy and happy kids who don't have issues with food like I do, and especially figuring out how to approach food-related holidays and traditions. I love the idea of doing 5k races with my husband and kids on holiday mornings - even if we just walk them as a family, we'll be out there, active, focusing on family and not just food. But the food is still there, in the background. So, how do you find balance?
I can't say for sure, since I am nowhere near marriage and parenthood right now. But ideally, I think I'd let my kids go trick or treating, but then figure out some way to ration out the candy. Try to teach moderation, and don't criminalize food. It's a personal goal that I hope to master, then instill in my children via example.