Halloween is believed to date back to the eighth century when Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day to honor all saints and martyrs.
All Saints’ Day followed some of the traditions of the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people lit bonfires and wore costumes to drive ghosts away. The poor would knock on the doors of the rich, receiving food in exchange for prayers for the souls of the rich homeowner’s dead relatives. Children later took up this practice.
All Hallows’ Eve was the night before All Saints’ Day and eventually became Halloween. Halloween came to America with a flood of new immigrants during the mid-1800s, including millions of Irish who were escaping Ireland’s potato famine. It was during this time that people began dressing up in costumes and knocking on neighbors’ doors asking for food or money.
It’s important to keep in mind that people weren’t filling up plastic pumpkins with oversized candy bars made with manufactured ingredients, and they weren’t spending hours in front of TVs, computers and smartphones.
I’m willing to give them a pass. But I can’t give a pass to people who give out or consume something as unhealthy as candy corn, which has 150 calories per ounce.
So how do we make Halloween healthier?
Instead of candy, you can give out pencils, crayons, stickers, small toys or even money.
If your child is going to have candy, limit it to one piece per day, and pair it with a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit, celery or nuts.
A couple of years ago, I spoke about a teenager who developed UNREAL candy, which has much lower sugar content and no artificial colors, sweeteners or preservatives. To be fair, I don’t expect all of my readers to invent their own healthy candy.
Of course, the best way to have a healthy Halloween is to practice a wellness lifestyle all year long.
Make smart choices every day. Teach your children to make smart choices every day. Educate them about why a balanced, nutritious diet, regular exercise, and a good night’s sleep are important. Children should know at a very young age that it’s not okay to stick your head in a sack full of candy and eat your way out.
The goal should be to get your child to say, “Candy isn’t good for me, so I should only have it as a special treat.”
Don’t laugh! This is what happens when we educate our children, lead by example, and show them how to live a wellness lifestyle.
Instead of being forced to be the bad guy on Halloween, your child will have the knowledge to practice self-control and make smart decisions. That’s yet another incredibly powerful by-product of a wellness lifestyle.
Have fun on Halloween. Eat a piece of candy. Just use your brain and get back to living your wellness lifestyle on November 1.