Tuesday, November 3, 2015

If You Can: Trash the Stash!

By: Jamie Jeffrey, M.D., FAAP

The nights are cooler and fall is on its way. For a lot of families this is a perfect time to increase their outside physical activity. The cool breeze is perfect for a family walk or trip to a nearby park. That is the good news. But… Fall also brings a flurry of holidays and celebrations. For health conscious families, this can be a tough time to keep the little ones (and ourselves!) on track with nutritious choices.

We start with Halloween followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. More than ever, these holidays seem to revolve around food, food and more food to celebrate the holiday. The traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday are loaded with food choices saturated with fat, sugar and salt. It makes it really tough to stay healthy. But one of the worse holidays for our kids is Halloween. Candy.  Candy. Candy. Candy at school, candy at Grandma’s house and treat-or-treat at the mall AND in their own neighborhood. Every kid knows which neighbor hands out full size candy bars. Most kids now are seen carrying pillow cases. This is a “supersized” plastic pumpkin. Like a whole pumpkin full of candy isn’t enough for our kids!

On average, each piece of bite sized candy treat contains about two teaspoons of sugar. Multiple sources estimate an average kid will eat 10-15 treats before they get home from the trick-or-treat festivities. Do the math. That would be 20-30 teaspoons of sugar. Hmmm. No wonder they can’t seem to settle down and get to sleep. Can you say, “the energizer bunny?” No wonder my waiting room is full of kids with tummy aches the morning after trick-or-treat. I am always surprised that parents seem “shocked” and have an “ah-ha” moment when I mention that the belly ache could be from too much candy.

So how can Choosy help? Choosy teaches kids to move to music and use movement vocabulary. Halloween could be such a fun and creative time for costumes and fun games and activities. I say TRASH the STASH. Candy corn and bite size candy bars will be everywhere! Preschool, school and family parties should be based on movement and fun…the way Choosy would like it! Plus, a typical child will have to walk 11 miles to stay energy neutral for all the calories and sugar they consume.
I also can offer the following advice for parents to keep their kid’s safe and healthy during the holiday:
  • Pick safe, comfortable and brightly colored costumes. Make sure kids can safely walk in their costumes and can adequately see if the costume has a wig or mask. 
  • Carry a flash light and add reflective tape to the costume or trick-or-treat bag. 
  • An adult should always accompany their children and go to fully lite houses of neighbors that you know.
  • Eat a full, healthy dinner with lots of veggie options and lean protein like grilled chicken, turkey or seafood before trick-or-treating activities. Serve water with dinner to make sure everyone is well hydrated. 
  • Make a family rule of eating candy only after inspection at home or only 1-2 items until you get home. 
  • Try to ration treats and consider swapping for cash or other non-food rewards. You could also donate the candy to a local charity (even though I sometimes feel guilty about this one!).
So think of the song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and substitute the word kids for girls and focus on fun activities that include movement for Halloween and all other holidays as well.

About the Author: Dr. Jamie Jeffrey, M.D., FAAP
Medical Director, CAMC Medical Center
Director of Healthy Kids Pediatric Weight Management Program
Director, KEYS

Dr. Jeffrey is a pediatrician and Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at WVU School of Medicine-Charleston Division. She is also the Medical Director of HealthyKids Wellness and Weight Management Program (HealthyKids) at CAMC. She received her medical degree from Marshall University School of Medicine and completed a pediatric residency at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio. She supervised pediatric residents for the past 20 years. She lives in Charleston with her husband and four fantastic children, ages 10,15,19, and 21.

As Director for KEYS 4 HealthyKids, she works with the community to meet the mission to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by focusing on policy, system and environmental strategies to enable more sustainable change. This will hopefully provide the system and landscape improvements where the HEALTHY choice is the EASY choice.

Look behind the white coat and you’ll see more than a pediatrician in Dr. Jamie Jeffrey.
“I’m a fixer,” she says. “I love to find problems because then I can go to work on fixing them.”

63 comments :

  1. Oh yeah, rationing the treats is so important. You can't let them have all that sugar at once!

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    1. Can you imagine the belly aches if they ate all of their candy in 1 night?!

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  2. I am lucky in that son is 15 and doesn't do junk food as he has become a health nut. Wish I was more like him.

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    1. How did he learn? You must have lead him in the right direction!

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    2. You must have done a great job Rebecca. My son is a tweenie with braces and he loves candy! Its been a battle uncovering he Stash and trashing it lol. My daughter is health conscious and rarely eats candy, she loves her teeth.Thank goodness. I agree its best to trash the whole stuff. I literally did! thanks for this share!

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  3. Great share! My 2 kids are no longer little, young adults now, but really enjoyed the info here, especially for young parents....Thanks for sharing, so many can benefit definately :)

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  4. Thanks for sharing these! My girls are now adults so I have graduated trick or treating a long time ago. But this would definitely help, especially health conscious moms out there!

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  5. These are great! We definitely ration treats at our house. We've also donated candy to a local shelter for the residents to enjoy as well.

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    1. Great idea!! I'm sure that it not only is a teachable moment but it makes others very happy!

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  6. Well, now at least I'm not the only one who sees the effects that Halloween candy can have on kids :).
    This time of the year revolves around food...so it's really important to make well-being a (pleasant) priority.

    Great post.

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    1. Yes! It is holiday after holiday now and typically they revolve around food so we need to make smart and healthy choices.

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  7. Great post!!! I truly is important to ration candy and sweets. In our house candy, cookies, and sweets are a treat, and not given all the time. I don't withhold them permanently, however, they know it is a special treat when they get the sweet stuff. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Sometimes it is worse if you withhold special treats because they may overindulge when they are given the chance!

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  8. It is definitely important to ration sweets.

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  9. It's definitely important to stash some of that candy away!

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  10. As a mom of two littles- I know that reducing sugar in take is so important.

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    1. Too much sugar makes mama crazy too, right?

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  11. We have a lot of candy left over from Halloween. There's a buy back program where we drop off our left over candy to a particpating Dentist and he/she takes the candy and switches it for floss, toothbrushes, etc.

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    1. That is a fantastic idea!! More dentists should do this!!!

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  12. We have a ton of candy from Halloween, I can't believe how much the kids came home with. Everything in moderation, right?

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    1. Exactly! And it is crazy the amount of candy people pass out!!!

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  13. I have also tons of Candy left from Halloween and am thinking what to do about it? Thanks for sharing this post.

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    1. Another person who commented said their dentist trades candy for toothpaste and toothbrushes!

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  14. Yeah all the candy sure tastes good but I am not a fan of all the sugar, and artificial dyes. Best to make these things a rare treat ;)

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    1. Great point about artificial dyes. They play a major role in kids being high energy too!

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  15. Wow this is a great post it is very important. We still have candy here from Halloween but my two kids was not a fan of sweets. Thanks for sharing

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    1. So what do you do with the candy if they don't eat it?

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  16. This is such an important subject. Kids aren't educated as much as they should be in health.

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    1. And that's why Choosy Kids exists! Trying to educate 1 kid/1 parent at a time!

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  17. I remind my kids to eat well balance and avoid sugary food/drink. My daughter wouldn't listen

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    1. Lol. How old is she? What does she prefer? Choices make a big difference.

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  18. Because it's a once a year thing, I'm fine with it. That being said, I've always had a limit to the number of pieces they could have per day!

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  19. Great ideas! I ration out our candy. And I throw a lot of it away.

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    1. Good for you. Do your kids know it is going in the trash? If so, what do you/they say?

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  20. These are awesome tips. I try to limit the girls' sweets intake, so we still have tons of candies left from their trick or treating.

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    1. We'll have candy until next Halloween!! Toooo much!

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  21. Totally - I made my husband take all the candy to work so that it is out of the house! We don't need all that sugar!

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  22. Great tips! I know if it's in front of me I'll eat it whether I need to or not so getting them out of the house works :D

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    1. Yup! That's why we always say to put a fruit bowl out instead of a candy dish.

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  23. It's amazing to me to think about how much candy I ate on and after Halloween. Even though we took her trick-or-treating, thankfully my daughter is too young to really know what the candy is, but we'll definitely be employing this with her as she gets older!

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    1. And typically trick or treat is right before bedtime:P

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  24. These are great ideas. My son is only 2 so we didn't go to too many houses, so he doesn't have a huge stash of candy. PLUS, he has seemed to have forgotten about the candy. I'll keep these tips in mind for next year when he's older.

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  25. Great ideas! My kids are more obsessed with holding their pumpkin buckets and looking at their candy instead of actually eating it...for now. Hopefully, they'll forget about it soon enough and then I'll get rid of it.

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    1. Haha that's super cute! They are in shock about what's in there!

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  26. We got rid of a LOT of candy after Halloween. My daughter isn't allowed to have a lot of sugar.

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  27. These are all reallyyy great tips! I don't really get to participate in Halloween much anymore, but I am all about food, and love holiday feasts like no other, so I like to at least somewhat even it out by making healthy dishes! :]

    Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Good for you! And next year, if you pass out treats, maybe they could be healthier options so you do your part in preventing unhealthy stashes :)

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  28. My kids are pretty good at rationing sweets without help. My oldest though, is 27 and if he feels the urge, he can go at 'em, lol

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    1. Yea...27 is old enough to make his own decisions on sweets :P

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  29. As my kid gets older it is getting more difficult to manage the sugar intake, my go to solution is to not buy sweets, it does get harder during holidays because family comes to visit, but I'm not allowing that excuse to control the health of my child. Thank you for sharing some tips.

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    1. I understand! The holidays make it very hard but stick to your gut and don't allow too many sweets.

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  30. These are some great tips! We always go to this one subdivision and have always had good results. This was the first year that my son actually knew what was going on. He has only had a few pieces of candy since trick or treating.

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    1. That is awesome. While trick or treating is great fun for children, it is up to the parents to divide up the sweets.

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  31. Great tips! I am happy that my children no longer care about trick-or-treating anymore seeing as they are now both teenagers. Sugar is bad for so many reasons but is already so high in quantity in our regular day to day foods sold at stores and restaurants. It is definitely best to avoid purchasing even more via way of candies. Although sometimes I admit it is hard... even for myself. Especially when it comes to chocolates :/

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    1. I know it is really hard to avoid chocolate. Use it as a treat and not an everyday occurrence.

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