BY Eileen Z. Fuentes
Halloween takes place this weekend and for someone like me the scariest part of this holiday is not the bloody monsters, the vampires or the witches. It is the idea that our children are going to take in loads of candy filled with dye, sugar and other chemicals. Traditionally Halloween is less about tricks and so much more about the so-called treats. It is not my intention to put a damper on what has long been associated with fun, imagination, and community. It is simply to increase awareness about the “edible food-like substances” our kids are eating.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has a 68-page report titled, Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks, on the topic. In this document health risks such as cancer, hyperactivity, and allergic reactions were all cited. They also provide a handy Summary of Studies on Food Dyes. This handy guide provides a list of the most commonly used dyes and the associated reaction. Next on the list is sugar. Sugar consumption has increased to about one-half pound per day! And in most cases high-fructose corn syrup, a toxic mixture of fructose and glucose extracted from corn, is used as the main ingredient. There is a commercial that just makes me cringe every time I see it. What they failed to say in this ad is that this product wreaks havoc in the body, is associated with a host of diseases, and is the single largest source of calories for Americans. The most painful part is that it is in most food products made for our children!
That is why I was pleasantly surprised when I attended Vive Tu Vida/Live Your Life’s Halloween party. Tricks and healthy treats were definitely on the agenda. The kids had no idea that what they were eating was “healthy”. There was fruit, baked apples, turkey meatballs, vegetable empanadas, carrot cake cupcakes, fresh-baked cookies, and my personal favorite the honey, cinnamon coconut apples on a stick. I had an overwhelming sense of pride seeing the children in our community taking part in yoga, Latin dancercise, a video/hip-hop version of the monster-mash, capoeira to live tambourines and more. These activities were thoroughly planned to make it culturally relevant, exciting to the children, and the DJ’s music selection made it so that I had a hard time staying still.
Replace soda with sparkling juices and check out some healthy Halloween recipes that you can do with your children: