You know that you are doing something right when just your physical presence causes people to make different food choices. Let me explain. For many years, I have gone to Houston to attend the International Quilt Festival. Typically, it is held over the Halloween weekend. During this time I stay with my best friend and her family. This is something that I have attended since my days of living in Houston way back in the early 1990’s. Since moving away, whenever I go to Houston, I always stay with my best friend, so several times a year, I move into their spare bedroom and set up camp. This has happened for so many years, that I consider it my 2nd home. On my most recent trip to finalize the dancing in ANNIE, we were eating dinner when 8 year old Noah asked me the following question. “Mikell, are you going to be here for Halloween?” I found this question very odd. I am not a big fan of Halloween for a laundry list of reasons, so it is not like I get caught up in decorations and dressing up in a costume. So for a child, I would not consider myself to be a lot of “fun” for that particular event. With my curiosity peaked, I asked him why? His response was “If you are here, we have to eat healthier and you won’t let me eat my Halloween candy!” Now for the record, I have physically NEVER stopped anyone from eating what they want, however, if my physical presence causes someone to rethink a food choice, then I am all for it. I know I must be leading by example for this little one to associate me with a healthier lifestyle! It was a proud moment for me!
On that note, whether you partake in the Halloween festivities or not, one thing is for sure. You will be surrounded by candy. It is everywhere. In any store, at school, in the work place (not mine of course! Toy and Joetta, this means you!) Many of you will be participating in Harvest Festivals and parties. Each time you pick up a “mini” candy morsel, you need to know what you are ingesting. This is where you need to break out the magnifying glass so you can read the label. Aside from the high fructose corn syrup, check out all of the different dyes in just one seemingly innocent tidbit. Red, yellow, blue...all the colors that we know, which live up in the rainbow! Hummmm.
Where do these dyes come from? Have you ever wondered that? Well, for the most part, these pretty dyes come from coal or tar. Yes, I mean the stuff you would never consider to eat in its raw form. Now doesn’t that sound yummy? (This could bring a whole new meaning to coal in your stocking at Christmas!) Blue #1 and #2 (Patent Blue and Indigo Carmine) are commonly added to candy. Brilliant black has been known to make the symptoms of asthma worse. Yellow #5 (Tartazine) is known to cause the most allergic types of symptoms. These could include anxiety, migraines, depression, blurred vision, itching, runny nose, general weakness, heart palpitations and trouble with sleep. Well, what is a parent to do? For some families “trick or treating”, or “trunk or treating” is a fun holiday kick off. I am not trying to suggest that you stay at home and not participate. My concern is what happens to all of the “coal and tar” that your little darlings have collected. How about this for an idea? Tell your little ones that after the fun, they will get to pick out 5 pieces of candy to keep. The rest will go into a bag by the front door. After they go to bed, the “candy fairy” will come to pick up the candy and will leave a special toy in its place! How cool is that! It provides a win, win for all! I have found the bigger problem for families is to actually have the courage to throw the candy away. It could be seen as wasteful. I am actually ok with that! Better it go to the garbage (isn’t that where coal and tar belong?) than inside your little darlings tummies!