The Tricks of Treats
Halloween is an exciting time of the year and it is a good excuse to dress up in a scary outfit or as your favorite movie character, decorate your house and even carve a Jack-o’-lantern. With Halloween comes the tradition of Trick-or-Treating. As I recall my childhood I can remember thinking, “what could be better than this, we dress up so no one knows who we are, run around like a bunch of hooligans from door to door with the goal of collecting as much candy from the neighbors as possible”. I don’t believe the mindset of children has changed much in the last 20+ years.
At the risk of being labeled “an old fuddy duddy”, and putting a negative spin on the time honored tradition every child from 4 years old and up looks forward to each year; Trick-or-Treating has its own very scary story. Its not even so much in the act of the Trick-or-Treating, but in the treats themselves that get passed out into the old pillowcase for consumption in mass quantities at a later time.
In our society today we are seeing exponential rises in childhood diseases, diabetes, behavioral disorders, ADD/ADHD, and obesity. ALL of these situations have a dietary component to them. Each and everyone of the conditions can be changed and controlled with proper diet, the determination of food sensitivities and their avoidance, and the regulation of blood sugar.
That may sound like a bold statement, but I promise you it is completely true. The hard part is humans are creatures of habit and can be very resistant to change. We all want the easy road, and if that means popping a pill instead of cooking a different dinner many people will choose the pill popping. Unfortunately with the use of medications come side effects. It is all too common to hear stories of suicidal thoughts that developed in a child after they started medication for ADD. When we take medications to treat symptoms instead of determining why we have the symptom in the first place we can never truly heal from the problem. Instead we just spin our wheels and take one medication after another trying to alleviate different symptoms.
Take a closer look at those glorious bags filled with oohy-goohy-tasty-chewy morsels of deliciousness that have absolutely no good nutritional value to them at all, that every child feasts on for weeks following Halloween. Those treats are full of sugar, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners like aspartame and trans-fats. Lets face it when you have 100 screaming munchkins banging down your door and threatening the integrity of your home you need to appease the little hooligans and give them what they want, and we’re not going to spend an arm and a leg on candy and treats that are healthy. No; your going to buy the big bags of candy and hoping you have enough to satisfy the masses so you don’t run out and get your house egged and your yard TP’d.
However contributing to the problem and sticking our heads in the sand trying to ignore them and hoping they will go away will not work either. It is easy to say that Halloween is a special occasion and only happens once a year, but stop and think about the mass quantities of sugar that are coming down the pipe after Halloween. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentines Day, and Easter are all holidays that have major doses of candy associated with them. Not to mention the birthday parties, super bowl and other festive occasions we throw in between holidays for a good excuse to party.
Understanding the detriments of sugar is very important to making a shift in our habits. Sugar is broken down to glucose, which is the energy our brain uses. However the glucose, when taken in a straight form like candy, overwhelms the body and causes an insulin surge to push the glucose out of the blood into the tissues. Too much glucose for too long a period of time in the blood stream will lead to many health problems. The body becomes resistant to the insulin and the body then has a hard time regulating the glucose; which is Diabetes. Glucose that is not used is turned into glycogen and ultimately fat in the body, which are stored energy sources. A by-product of the conversion of the glucose to fat is cholesterol. High cholesterol problems are not a fat consumption problem; they are usually a sugar consumption problem or an inflammation problem caused by hormone imbalances, which is a topic for another article.
When the brain is overloaded with sugar it causes and excitation of the nerves. Too much excitation causes cell death to occur. When brain cells die off they create inflammation in the brain. Brain fog is caused by this inflammation and contributes to learning disabilities and ADD/ADHD. To stop these symptoms limiting the amount of sugar in the diet is very important.
Artificial sweeteners come with their own set of problems. Aspartame is converted to four waste products when it is broken down in the liver: formaldehyde, formic acid, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Formaldehyde is used in embalming fluid, and formic acid is fire ant venom. Aspartic acid and pheylalinine are excitatory neurotransmitters that have the same effect on brain cells as too much sugar causing cell death when the levels are too high. Artificial sweeteners are not a substitute for sugar; in many cases they cause even more problems. The best solution is to avoid these candies and treats all together.
Avoiding treats and candies all together however is usually not on the top of everyone’s priority list. Being aware of what these treats are doing to the body, especially the bodies and brains of our growing children is particularly important. The truth sometimes can be scarier than fiction, and the scary part of this story is the epidemic health challenges we are seeing in the lives of children in society today that have a direct relationship to diet. We all have choices to make and conscious decisions go a long way in changing culture. We need to take back control, shift our culture and get these scary monsters out of our society so we can improve the quality of life for everyone.