Tag Archives: candy

Have a Happy, Safe Halloween!

26 Oct

My love of Halloween is no secret among my friends. I adore all of the rituals, from decorating the house and baking pumpkin-shaped cookies to carving jack-o-lanterns and handing out candy. To make sure your family has a great October 31st, check out the following safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Halloween Safety Tips

ALL DRESSED UP:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections.

CARVING A NICHE:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

HOME SAFE HOME:

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:

  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN:

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

For more information, visit www.aap.org.

Advertisements

The Easter Bunny Killed My New Year’s Resolution: Detoxing from Too Much Sweet Stuff!

3 May

I am the same pitiful sugar addict who entered 2011 with such high hopes of taming her lifelong sweet tooth. This week, I blame the Easter Bunny, who brought pounds of chocolate to the Martin household this April. The fact that my 5-year-old son asks “what’s for dessert” before we’ve sat down to dinner makes me know I’ve passed along my carb cravings to him, too. Ugh.

But it’s a new month—and I’m planning on dusting off my New Year’s Resolution and giving it another go.

So why am I hating on sugar so much? Last year, I read this newsletter from Gwyneth Paltrow’s “GOOP,” and I knew my long-term health required kicking the habit. Here are excerpts from the post, which may resonate with you as much as it does me. (For the full post, visit http://www.goop.com.)

Overcoming Sugar Addiction

In the past generation we’ve seen the amount of sugar we consume grow exponentially. Until recently, we had been eating sugar mainly found naturally in foods. It was used as a treat or in small quantities and was never a problem. But today, over a third of the calories we consume come from sugar or white flour, which is highly refined and acts just like sugar in our system. Our bodies cannot cope with such an enormous load. Sugar gives you an initial high, then you crash, then you crave more, so you consume more sugar. It’s this series of highs and lows that provoke unnecessary stress on your adrenals. You get anxious, moody (sugar is a mood-altering drug) and eventually you feel exhausted.

Sugar is also associated with many chronic problems that include decreased immunity, some chronic infections, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, pain syndromes, irritable bowel syndrome, ADD, chronic fatigue, and candida. Research suggests that one of the main causes for decreased immunity is that sugars inhibit the entrance of Vitamin C into white blood cells, which then inhibits immunity. The more sugar, the less productive your white blood cells are and thus, the less immune you are. Furthermore, sugars stimulate insulin secretion in the pancreas, which in turn stimulates the liver’s triglyceride production. Triglycerides are linked to stroke, heart disease and obesity. The list goes on and on. This week, Dr. Frank Lipman provides us with all the info on how to curb a sugar addiction.

Love,
gp

What we should know about sugar from Dr. Frank Lipman:

As a serious sugar addict still struggling with my “addiction” I know first hand how difficult it is to get off sugar, and to stay off it. Part of the reason it’s so hard to kick the habit is that over time our brains actually become addicted to the natural opioids that are triggered by sugar consumption. Much like the classic drugs of abuse such as cocaine, alcohol and nicotine, a diet loaded with sugar can generate excessive reward signals in the brain which can override one’s self-control and lead to addiction.

One study out of France, presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, showed that when rats (who metabolize sugar much like we do) were given the choice between water sweetened with saccharin and intravenous cocaine, 94% chose the saccharin water. When the water was sweetened with sucrose (sugar), the same preference was observed—the rats overwhelmingly chose the sugar water. When the rats were offered larger doses of cocaine, it did not alter their preference for the saccharin or sugar water. Even rats addicted to cocaine, switched to sweetened water when given the choice. In other words, intense sweetness was more rewarding to the brain than cocaine.

The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction to include three stages: bingeing, withdrawal and craving. Until recently, the rats had only met two of the elements of addiction, bingeing and withdrawal. But recent experiments by Princeton University scientist, Professor Bart Hoebel, and his team showed craving and relapse as well. By showing that excess sugar led not only to bingeing and withdrawal, but to cravings for sweets as well, the final critical component of addiction fell into place and completed the picture of sugar as a highly addictive substance.

In stark contrast to this clinical assessment is the fact that, for most of us, “something sweet” is a symbol of love and nurturance. As infants, our first food is lactose, or milk sugar. Later on, well-intended parents (me included) reward children with sugary snacks, giving them a “treat,” turning a biochemically harmful substance into a comfort food. We become conditioned to need something sweet to feel complete or satisfied, and continue to self-medicate with sugar as adults, using it to temporarily boost our mood or energy. But as any addict knows, one quick fix soon leaves you looking for another—each hit of momentary satisfaction comes with a long-term price.

Here are some tips to help you cope with sugar cravings:

Eat regularly. Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.

Choose whole foods. The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety.

Have a breakfast of protein, fat and phytonutrients to start your day off right. Breakfast smoothies are ideal for this. The typical breakfast full of carbs and sugary or starchy foods is the worst option since you’ll have cravings all day. Eating a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings.

Try to incorporate protein and/or fat with each meal. This helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure they are healthy sources of each.

Take a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, Vitamin D3 and omega 3 fatty acids. Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, Vitamin B3 and magnesium.

Move your body. Exercise, dance or do some yoga. Whatever movement you enjoy will help reduce tension, boost your energy and decrease your need for a sugar lift.

Get enough sleep. When we are tired we often use sugar for energy to counteract the exhaustion.

Don’t substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar.

Become familiar with sugar terminology. Recognize that all of these are sweeteners: corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, molasses, turbinado sugar and brown sugar.

Sugar in disguise. Remember that most of the “complex” carbohydrates we consume like bread, bagels and pasta aren’t really complex at all. They are usually highly refined and act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided.

If you follow these guidelines, perhaps you’ll be able to have an occasional “treat.” Be realistic with yourself and remember that a slip is not a failure. Don’t get down on yourself if you slip, just dust yourself off and get back in the saddle. However, if even just a little causes you to lose control, then it’s best to stay away from it completely. And my ultimate tip for sugar-free bliss is to remind ourselves to find and pursue “sweet satisfaction” in nourishing experiences other than food.

Frank Lipman MD, is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC and the author of REVIVE; Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) and TOTAL RENEWAL; 7 key steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health (2003).

So-Long to the Sweet Life

21 Feb

My name is Lisa and I am a sugar addict.

It’s official.  I’m adding one more resolution to my 2011 list—to give up that seductive sweet stuff.  I’m not kidding myself, either: this is gonna be tough.

Sugar, you see, has become a fully integrated partner in my life.  My favorite holiday?  Halloween.  My favorite food?  Peppermint ice cream.  I even use a body wash that smells like a vanilla wafer and burn candles that remind me of gingerbread.  Yum.

I am hopelessly hooked.

But I’m also something else: a wife, mother, daughter and friend who needs to stay healthy.  To that end, I’ve been tinkering with the notion of cutting down on my sugar intake for weeks.  During the holidays, I realized with considerable chagrin, no meal seemed complete without something sweet at the end.  My addiction was escalating!  More unsavory evidence: about the time I was putting out cookies for Santa, my tried-and-true trick of drinking a half-cup of tomato juice stopped satisfying my relentless sweet tooth.  Sigh.

The tipping point came this weekend while reading an interview with Gary Taubes, author of the new Why We Get Fat (Knopf).  Taubes reports that the French consume half the sugar we Americans do.  And he adds that the Inuits, who ate a high-fat diet but one without carbs, had almost no incidents of breast cancer…until forty-years ago when their diet started changing to be more like ours.  (American hegemony definitely includes diet—witness the dominance of KFC in the People’s Republic.)

So wish me luck and send me your sugar-busting tips!  With any luck and some willpower, you’ll be the biggest sweetie in my life this month!

The Trick to a Fun, Safe Halloween

19 Oct

An ongoing battle with my 5-year-old over this year’s costume (he wants to be a ninja-cowboy-wizard—don’t ask; I want him to wear the astronaut suit Grandma ransomed from FAO Schwartz!) hasn’t dampened my excitement about trick-or-treating.  We live in a busy subdivision; last year, we handed out 135 Twix bars and M&Ms to tiny witches and wee tigers!  This year we’re heading once again to a friend’s neighborhood, a network of about 100 homes accessed via a single street entrance.  The minimal car traffic combined with hordes of kids does this mama’s heart good.

I also try to follow these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Have a safe, funny, happy Halloween!

Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.

Avoid trick-or-treating alone.  Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.

Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.  Limit the amount of treats you eat.

Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.

Always test make-up in a small area first.  Remove it before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation.

Look both ways before crossing the street.  Use established crosswalks wherever possible.

Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.

Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.

Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.

Eat only factory-wrapped treats.  Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.

Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult.  Otherwise, stay outside.

Never walk near lit candles or luminaries.  Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

For more tips, visit http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/.

%d bloggers like this: