Halloween is almost here and once again you are hoping to have lots of costumed children ringing your bell on their quest for the house with the best treats. Just as you do every year, you justify buying the extra-large bag of candy because you hope to have more trick-or-treaters this year than last. You seem to remember the weather wasn’t that good, or maybe it was a school night…better be safe and get two bags. After all, you wouldn’t want to run out when the bus pulls up. It will be okay because you really don’t like any of the candy in the bags anyway. (When you were young, the candy was so much better.)
You pull into your drive and lug the two sacks of sweets into the house where you are greeted by your four legged friend. Don’t just put those sweets anywhere. Chocolate, hard candies, raisins, and other things that won’t hurt you can make your dog extremely sick. Even some candies that don’t have harmful ingredients can be a choking hazard. Make sure you put the candy in a secure place for your pet’s safety.
Most dog owners have heard that chocolate is bad for their best friend. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea and seizures in dogs. Other ingredients such as raisins can cause kidney failure. Even sweets without chocolate can cause severe gas and bloating if the sugar content is high. Xylitol, which is found in many sugar free gums can be fatal to dogs. Even if the ingredients in the candy don’t hurt your dog, hard candy or a candy wrapper can be a choking hazard for your pets.
Once you have the candy in a secure place where your pet can’t get to it there is only one other concern…you still know where it is. Most of us can resist for a few days before the chocolate and sweets start to call to us. You bought it for the trick-or-treaters after all. Once you hear the call of the candy, you will only be able to resist for a short time before you decide you need to try it to make sure it is something the kids will like. You wouldn’t want to give them “bad” candy would you? The cycle begins with one piece which quickly becomes two and then ten and then “I don’t know how many I’ve had.” Then it is off to the store for another bag to ensure enough for the little angels, ghouls, ghosts and super heroes.
We all have will power but we don’t all have enough to resist the call of sweets. It’s literally in our DNA. Eating sugar stimulates your brain to produce dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter. This is the same response people have to drugs like cocaine or meth and, just like illegal drugs, excess sugar can cause damage to our organs and our brains. The desire for sugar is so strong that the average American eats over 130 pounds of added sugar a year! All that sugar is causing us to have larger waists, be more prone to heart disease and diabetes, have high blood pressure and even elevated cholesterol!
I know what you are thinking, “Isn’t it fat consumption that causes most of those problems?”
It’s not surprising you might think that. In a New York Times article just last month it was revealed that the sugar industry actually began paying scientists to down play the relationship between sugar consumption and heart disease in the 1960’s. Instead of placing the blame on sugar where it belonged, it was placed on saturated fat. It seems the food industry has been influencing the science of nutrition for decades by funding research that cast a good light on sugary products such as sodas and candy. You can read the full article at the New York Times website.
With so much working against you, how are supposed to resist that candy? For starters, be nice to your dog and don’t even bring it into the house. There are many alternative things you can do for the trick-or-treaters that they will appreciate and that won’t create so much temptation and possibly result in extra pounds or even worse outcomes for you. You can give popcorn, fruit snacks (Yes, real fruit.), granola bars, juice boxes, small toys (Think bubbles!) and even items to engage their minds such as puzzles and books. They will remember you because you are the house that did something different and good.
Make this Halloween memorable by making it about something besides candy. The trick-or-treaters will like it, your health will be better because of it and even your dog will be glad you didn’t bring those sweet smelling sacks into the house only to put them in that top cupboard he can’t reach.
Dowd, Pam (October 23, 2015). Protect your pets from dangers of Halloween candy, Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved from http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/.
O’Conner, Anahad (September 12, 2016) How the sugar industry shifted the blame to fat, New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/eat/how-the-sugar-industry-shifted-blame-to-fat.html?_r=0.
Zerbe, Leah (December 2, 2013) 11 weird things sugar’s doing to your body, Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/weird-effects-sugars-having-on-your-body.
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