Happy, Harrowing Halloween—by Jamie Levine
I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween. As a sugar addict, I get dizzy with delight over the abundance of candy corn, mini boxes of Dots, and specially-flavored tootsie pops crowding the shelves at every supermarket and drug store in my neighborhood. And also as a sugar addict (and former fatty), I worry about losing control and eating every sugary treat in sight this time of year. I also worry about my daughter, Jayda. She, too, is a sugar addict—and has the propensity to be on the higher-end of the ideal weight range for her height. I do allow her just about every kind of “treat” in moderation, but am constantly on a quest to limit her sugar intake. Add to that Jayda’s poor track record with cavities (at 4-1/2, she’s already had four of them filled), and it’s clear that candy should not be a big part of her diet.
My Halloween rule is “anything goes”—meaning that Jayda can eat whatever she wants while she’s trick-or-treating, and all evening long. It’s a special day–and thus a permissible day of gluttony (as long as Jayda doesn’t eat so much she gets sick). I’m truly ok with that. But what bothers me is the days leading up to—and especially after—Halloween. It’s hard as heck to keep those days from being sugar-infused, too.
Halloween celebrations seem to start earlier every year, with school parties, neighborhood events, parades, and gatherings galore leading up to the day—and all revolving around edible Halloween treats, of course. There are “special” Halloween Oreos, which Jayda “has” to have at a play date, and mini-chocolate bars sitting on store counters, which cashiers can’t help but offer to my adorable child. And then there’s the aftermath of Halloween—the basket of treats Jayda comes home with after traipsing through our neighborhood. She’s still young enough that I can confiscate her trick-or-treat bag after Halloween, and dole out candy to her in moderation (and even throw some out, unbeknownst to her), but it still exits: Candy for every day of early November. Candy I’d never give to Jayda (and for which she’d never ask) if it were another month, like March, for instance. But because it’s Halloween-time, candy-consumption continues for Jayda…and for me (and I don’t have anyone taking my candy away from me).
Per her request back in June, Jayda’s dressing as a cheerleader this Halloween. At one point, she asked me to wear a costume, too. Impulsively, I asked her what I should be, and she thought for a minute, and responded, “you should be a cheerleader like me!” I am rather fit and could certainly pull off a mini-skirt—but would rather not risk looking like a slutty suburban mom and getting all the wrong attention, so I opted out of her plan and decided to accompany her without a costume. But cheerleaders are athletic and energetic—and they’re generally in good shape. So I’m hoping Jayda’s aspirations to be one (she insists she’s going to be a cheerleader when she “grows up”), can help me keep her sugar-addiction in check. Jayda knows it’s important to eat well and exercise to be healthy and strong…and post-Halloween I’m going to make a concerted effort to stress that those habits are especially important for cheerleaders. It may not help—but it can’t hurt. I want Jayda to know that too much candy is nothing to cheer about.
Have a sweet Halloween, everyone!