What a whirlwind it’s been! Summer is officially gone and the Fall madness has begun. My girls went back to school the end of August and I started the NTP program with Nutritional Therapy Association a couple of weeks ago. My dreams of studying nutrition have arrived and I couldn’t be more excited albeit a bit overwhelmed to be back in school after an 18 year hiatus! I also have a new project I’m working on that should be launching very soon. Can’t wait to share that with all of you.
This time of year is not only busy but also challenging for any of us raising our children on a diet outside of society’s norm. Tons of food based holidays are approaching and the junk filled Halloween is right around the corner. I’ve received some inquiries about how I handle it for my children so I’ll do my best to share. I don’t see any reason for kids to miss out on tradition and fun just because the food isn’t optimal. For example, with four daughters we have our fair share of birthday parties to attend. I don’t want my kids to feel left out or ostracized when it’s cake time just because of our lifestyle. But I also don’t want to deal with a bellyache or much worse: gut damage from gluten exposure. So the balance is that we send them with a gluten-free cupcake from a local bakery or I make an almond or coconut flour muffin. They learned to accept this pretty well and now they get excited about it because it’s a really fun and rare treat.
Ever since my children were born I’ve known that giving them piles of sugar was senseless. Regardless of the fact that our culture feels it’s necessary to celebrate holidays that way. I’ve spent their childhood evolving my beliefs. Trying out many methods in the hopes of getting and keeping them healthy. Some were fine, some mediocre at best, some pretty decent, some I don’t know what I was thinking! That’s parenthood, right? It wasn’t until we discovered the path we’ve been on for the last two years that we found optimal health. My girls have never thrived so well in all of their lives. Splurging is nice but going overboard isn’t worth throwing away that long sought after health. I believe that dressing up and walking around the neighborhood or going to festivals is great family fun for Halloween. But I want my children to learn that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should when it comes to gorging on junk. On All Hallows’ Eve we excitedly get dressed in our costumes, usually hit a neighborhood party, then head off to trick or treat with all of our friends. When it’s over we let the kids pick out a few pieces of candy as long as it’s gluten-free. You can use this resource to determine that. The rest goes in the garbage or traded in at the health food store (where they throw it in the garbage) for some healthy treats. The girls usually have a small toy or book in mind that they want and I like giving them a reward for making a difficult choice to be different from their peers. My kids have yet to be disappointed by this tradition. That’s the thing about kids, they look up to us for guidance and reassurance in life. They want to learn what’s going to help them be most successful and thankfully they are very adaptable. Having the attitude that they’ll hate it or won’t do it isn’t giving them the credit they deserve.
At some point you have to decide your priorities for your children and find the balance that works best for your family. I found that somewhere in the Paleo middle works well for us even if it doesn’t resemble anything like the mainstream’s middle. Anytime we choose to raise kiddos against the grain people are going to have negative responses based out of fear, lack of self esteem, or jealousy. You may encounter people who criticize your parenting for making difficult decisions to support your family’s health. Educate yourself so that you can feel confident in your choices and not have doubts that you’re doing the best for them.
There’s also the decision of what to hand out if that’s part of your Halloween ritual. I like to give away fun stuff that kids aren’t going to get from every other house. Some inexpensive ideas are pencils, silly bands, stickers, bouncy balls, spider rings, erasers, mini Play-Doh, glow stick jewelry, and bubbles just to name a few. Please leave any other ideas in the comments below and Happy Halloween!