Happy Halloween from France!
Here in France Halloween is not celebrated to the same force as when I was growing up in New Jersey. Quelle dommage! Nevertheless, my kids will dress up and go out trick or treating and come back home with a few candies in their sack.
But I remember growing up in New Jersey, how fun it was to get all dressed up in disguise and leave the house with an empty pillowcase and spend hours going door to door saying “Trick or Treat“. That pillowcase would be heavy with treats by the end of the evening. At home we would empty our sacks and look at our candy treasures. (Insert great memories here)!
Who else remembers how fun Halloween was? Don’t we want our kids to experience this holiday the same way as we did?
But for some children, these Halloween candies can be a source of mood excitement, not just because of the sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) but from some of the artificial ingredients in them.
Some American-sold candies contain artificial colorings and dyes that are banned in other countries and have a causal relationship between eating them and hyperactivity.
And while I don’t want to be the Halloween nutritionist witch and put a grey spell on Halloween candy, I think it is important to highlight some of the artificial ingredients in Halloween candy sold in America so that parents can moderate their children’s intake, especially for kids that are hyperactive or are sensitive to artificial food colorings.
Kids Healthy Halloween: Why Read the Labels On the Candy?
I always suspected that my oldest daughter was sensitive to artificial colorings in foods and drinks. She is 15 years old now, but when she was a preschooler I saw a clear link between her behavior and foods that had a lot of dye additives. After eating colored processed foods, she wouldn’t be able to calm down and her behavior would turn aggressive, something even her grandparents noted on a summer trip to the states.
I started reading labels for ingredients and tried to balance her diet with less processed foods. When we moved to France balancing and controlling colors was even easier to do, because the European government regulates food dye additives better in Europe than in the United States. From results after a research study in the United Kingdom, and with pressure from the European Union government, food color additives are controlled better (some banned) in Europe and warning labels are posted on packaging.
If you have a child that is sensitive to food colorings, is hyperactive, or whose behavior seems to change with certain foods, it may be beneficial to you to read the Halloween candy food labels to help control what candies your kids are eating and how much they eat at one time. Independent of the sugar or high fructose corn syrup as ingredients, food dyes may cause behavior changes in your children.
If you suspect this is the case, take time to read the labels on their Halloween candy to look for these culprits.
Look for the culprits: Yellow#5, Blue #1 and Red #40
Here are the main three food dyes to watch out for in Halloween candy:
- Yellow #5
- Blue #1
- Red #40
Here is an example of Brach’s Candy Corn ingredients: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Confectioner’s Glaze, Salt, Dextrose, Gelatin, Sesame Oil, Artificial Flavor, Honey, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 3.
In M&M’s Yellow 6, Blue 1 Lake, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Red 40 Lake.
(Note that in Europe, M&M’s are made with natural dyes because the artificial dyes sold in American M&M’s are banned in Europe. For more information click here: “Why M&M’s Are Made With Natural Coloring In the EU and Not In The US”
These are only two of the well-known Halloween candies distributed today, look for the culprits in your children’s candies.
How to keep Halloween fun without being the candy monster!
We do want to keep Halloween fun and being a candy police is not an easy job. In fact, it is a delicate balance! Of my four kids, my oldest couldn’t tolerate artificial dyes without seeing a real behavior change. So for my oldest daughter I was strict with her candy intake and allowed her a small amount each day. And with other siblings that don’t have these issues, it is not always easy to explain to young children and to say no. As a parent, these are always difficult boundaries!
I believe that when it comes to seeing a direct link between what is in our foods and having a healthy child, I choose to be stricter. What do you think?
And now for more reading on the subject…
For more reading on chocolate candy, here is an article from the Food Babe, who was the first to do a large scale publicity on the European Union banned foods that are still sold in the US. (Have you heard of the Food Babe? She is quite knowledgeable on this food additive subject. Follow her for up to date information).
And then there is Dr. Mercola’s list of US foods banned in Europe. He is quite the food ‘radical’ but I like his point of view because it is supported by studies and well-documented facts.
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