Much of the information you find about staying healthy around Halloween addresses what you can do beforehand… aka keep kids away from the candy. You see advice to have the Great Pumpkin come and trade the candy for books and toys or you forgo trick or treating and make healthier treats yourself. That is actually great advice. Halloween candy is actually terribly bad for your kid’s health. Those are just the facts. It is loaded with immune suppressing sugar and other junkie ingredients like artificial dyes. Consuming all that candy is literally putting their immune systems under attack and during a time when they are already vulnerable… allergy season, fewer sunlight hours, and cold and flu bugs rearing their ugly heads.
But avoiding the candy is not always possible because they could get it at school or from other kids. It also sets up the concept of forbidden fruit. I would rather teach my kids to avoid it when they can but also teach them how to take care of their bodies after they have had a lapse in judgement. Giving them insight into how their body works when we eat junk and how we can nurture ourselves in the aftermath is just as important in my mind as teaching them about healthy eating. After all, I know I shouldn’t drink much alcohol or eat those candy cane flavored chocolates that abound this time of year, but I do. Instead of beating myself up when I want the bad I have to learn how to balance it with the good and take care of myself when my healthy habits take a detour.
It helps that we don’t allow too much candy to make its way home. We give the kids small buckets or lunch bags (much smaller than typical treat bags) and when they are filled, we go home. Doing it this way mitigates some of the damage hopefully. The second thing we usually do after Halloween is tell the kids to eat up the candy. No, we don’t let them eat 5 pieces each day and extend the immune suppressing abilities of all that junk. It’s best to get it gone and start the healing. My kids typically don’t eat all of it that night so the next day most of it magically disappears (works for younger kids) or I buy them out. Give me the rest of that candy and I will take you to a movie, deal?
Here are some other ways that we give our family an immunity boost after gorging on candy. These tips work for Halloween or any candy centric holiday (ie Valentines and Easter).
Broth – Once that candy is gone we go into a week long spree of nourishing, broth based soups that are heavy on the veggies, garlic, onions, and ginger. My crock pot and my dutch oven get used daily for at least a week.
Hydration – The drink of choice after Halloween is good old fashioned water and I make sure it is alkaline as well. No natural juice or sweetened teas right now, just water.
Fermented Drinks – After a week of mostly water we reintroduce fermented drinks like water kefir and dairy kefir, which enhance immunity with their live cultures. We mostly make our own but their are also some good ones from Lifeway. Their Pumpkin Spice and Cranberry Crème Brulee are a good way to mix kefir with holiday cheer.
Garlic – It has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties and can help ward of illness. I will often use an entire bulb in our soups after we have had excessive candy exposure.
No White Stuff– Sugar is one of the white things to be avoided but also white rice and flour. This week my hubby made pancakes with coconut flour and quinoa flour and he also made an apple pie with quinoa flour. We have gotten in the habit of using substitutes in our baking and cooking but it can be especially important not to eat any more of the white stuff after a candy binge.
Ginger – Ginger warms you up so fast you think you might be having a hot flash. That is of course why it works so well. It raises your body temperature and fights off viruses and prevents them from replicating. It is also anti-inflammatory and it supports our immune system.
Elderberry – This amazing herb is an anti-viral and it helps to fight viruses by warming your body temperature. It also has strong antioxidant properties that boost the immune system. You can make your own or you can buy it in the form of Sambucol.
If your reduced immunity does contribute to a cold, it’s most important to stay hydrated. Plain filtered water and sodium-light broths and may help reduce congestion.
Exercise – Mom and Dad go the gym but the kiddos need an extra dose of exercise after all that candy to. This is easily accomplished with neighborhood walks (most evenings for a couple weeks) and hiking at our nearby park system on the weekends. Exercise really boosts our immune system.
Plenty of Rest – After an event like Halloween we send the kids to bed earlier so they can get plenty of rest… their little bodies need it. All week long they are required to hit the sack an hour earlier than usual and this gives their immune system a chance to recover from the shock of all that sugar. Just wake a kid up for school the day after Halloween and see how much the extra rest was needed. A child after a sugar binge can be downright terrifying.
How will you keep your kids healthy AFTER Halloween?