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The other night I saw a commercial that shows a woman grocery shopping and talking about the possibility of government taxing unhealthy food choices–specifically sugary beverages like soda.  As she places a liter of lemon-lime soda in her basket she states that she "doesn’t need the government telling her how to shop for her family."

Let me begin by stating that I don’t want to get into the political debate of whether or not we should tax unhealthy foods.  I’d rather use this as a platform for us to examine our current food choices and see if and where we can make improvements.

I can tell you first hand that it’s easy to fall into bad habits.  Many times we don’t even recognize the nutrition choices we’re making might not be the healthiest options for our families.  Let’s face it–when you see that sports drink or soda pop commercial showing smiling faces and fun activities you don’t associate that product with weight gain, increased blood sugar and the related health risks.  Over time, buying multiple bottles of soda, fruit flavored "juice" and sugary sports drinks becomes the norm.  This is why we need to take every opportunity we are given to reevaluate our food choices.

Take a moment and ask yourself how such a tax would affect you and your family.  If you’re among those who would feel an impact, why not make a change?  Not only would the issue become a moot point for you, but you’d be providing healthier products to your family.  Sports drinks purchased for practices can become bottled water, fruit flavored punch at breakfast or lunch can change to 100% fruit juice and fresh brewed iced tea can replace sugary, carbonated beverages.  And, while you’re doing that reevaluation you might also want to see where certain pre-packaged snacks can be replaced by whole fruit or cut up vegetables.

Our Top 10 Meal Planning & Shopping Tips can help you make any necessary changes.  Just as those old choices became habit, these new, healthier ones will also catch on–and you’ll be glad they do!

 

I LOVE Halloween!  In fact, it’s by far my favorite holiday.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that, unlike many holidays, there’s no real stress or expectations associated with it.  I find that it’s simply a fun time of year to go visit haunted houses, carve pumpkins and dress up to be whatever or whoever you want.

All that said, I do recognize that Halloween isn’t always a favorite of parents–especially if your children are still young.  Today there is a heightened concern about the dangers associated with trick-or-treating such as tainted treats.  Plus, if you don’t monitor what or how many of those treats little Johnny is eating you can expect to spend your evening peeling him off the ceiling.  (Now THAT is scary!)   I’m of the mindset that you don’t have to completely abandon the entire holiday to keep your sanity–a little modifying can go a long way.

My kids are teens and, outside of dressing up for a Halloween themed dance, their Halloween activity is to man the front door and hand out treats to the myriad of witches, super heroes, ghosts and other creatures who visit us on October 31st.  However, when they were younger I had a few strict rules when it came to trick-or-treating:

  • After dark trick-or-treating was done with adult supervision.
  • NO candy is to be eaten until it has arrived back home and been inspected thoroughly by me.
  • They could select their favorite treats from their collection (this would typically be about 25% of their treat bag) to keep.
  • One piece of candy a day was the approved amount.

The remaining candy I sent with my husband to give to the main reception area in the large office building where he works.  Most of those desks have candy dishes and it was a great way to get rid of the extra candy without putting it in his immediate work area where he and everyone on his team would be tempted to feast on it all day long.

Another way to keep with the Halloween spirit, but still maintain control over what your children consume is to host a Halloween party.  For kids, most of the fun comes from dressing up like their favorite character.  There are tons of fun activities you can have them take part in like painting small pumpkins, which they can then take home.

Parties also allow you to set the menu.  Caramel apples are a delicious treat associated with the season and kids love them.  Cut up fruit with our Fruity Peanut Butter Dip is both nutritious and yummy.  Similarly, many children enjoy baby carrots or grape tomatoes with low fat ranch dressing.  Raisins, dried plums or apricots make great party snacks as well.

So this Halloween try to incorporate a little of the season’s spooky fun into your celebration while keeping your kids both safe and healthy.

 
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