Welcome Great Pumpkin
I write this two days before Halloween, and this Halloween has been very different for our
family. I didn’t “decorate” with buckets of candy starting October 1st, you know for the kids… I
haven’t bought orange cakes from the grocery store and yet we are in the holiday spirit.
“Every day is Halloween, isn’t it? For some of us” -Tim Burton
Halloween used to be an excuse for me to completely embrace my inner sugar self, to let my
freak flag fly so to speak with an entire month devoted to celebrating all things Candy. I have
decided to not over correct and become the Halloween Grinch, quite the contrary I still love
Halloween. It is a special day in our family, as it is also my daughter’s birthday. We threw
gigantic combo Halloween/Birthday parties for years, with up to 80 people in our house, 1/2 of
which were 4 year olds on sugar rushes. A significant portion of my basement is devoted to our
Halloween decorations and costumes. The Wathen rock Halloween.
Now, it is not all about the food. My kids are to going parties and I am not getting in between
them and their ability to have candy. The difference is I am not inviting those things into our
home. Partially because I do not eat that way anymore and do not want be temped in case I am
having a bad day. In addition, I am not encouraging to be around my family. Let’s face it, my 8
year old suburban son doesn’t have any way to get to the grocery store or bakery, without an
adult knowing. Even if he did, not sure he would bother to go in and actually find sugary sweets
and buy them. However, if there was a plastic container full of bright orange cookies with Jack O
Lantern faces etched out of icing the counter looking at him during a rainy Sunday, he would
have absolutely eaten many. Celebrating without the “special” Holiday food can be daunting, but
it doesn’t have to be. We need to clear up a giant misconception right away.
Food Does Not Equal Fun
Think back to the best wedding you ever went to. What did you choose for an entree? Chicken or
fish? What were the passed appetizers? Stumped? That is the point, you do not recall the details,
you remember how you felt, the experience. You remember the laughing, the joy you felt shaking
your money maker on the dance floor, cracking up during the speeches, tearing up during the
We act as though food needs to be the centerpiece of any event, we buy into the marketing, the
magazines, the blogs and the food network cooking competitions of what is important. If you
want to get technical, food is the part of the celebration with the shortest expiration date, even
the flowers last a few days. I am not advocating a life of dry chicken breasts and broccoli. I am
reminding everyone Food does not equal Fun. Food can be part of a celebration, but if we
upgrade the food, we can still make memories
What does it mean to upgrade the food? We usually association the term upgrade with airline
seats. “I paid for Coach, but I was upgraded into Business class” for example. Upgrading food
for Halloween is to put the food in its proper place, a better place, a higher place. Food is not the
center of the Holiday. It is part of it as during sometime during 4-5 hour long event we humans
will need to eat however, it is not the reason we showed up. Food the main event of the night,
reframe it to be the fist warm up act you acknowledge as you find your seat on your way to see
Adele. Food is not Adele.
How do we upgrade Halloween and still have fun? I bet you are looking for practical examples
of how to not be the neighborhood house with the front lights off but the kids can hear the tv on
while they are trick or treating on Halloween night?
Here are some ways my family has taken the emphasis off of the SugarFest this year and years
• We played tons of Halloween music all month. Pandora has a great station, and I do not get a
• It’s “The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is an annual treat. Find it, watch it, love it.
• The Haunted House in a local town never disappoints and we went to a special Halloween
themed night at an Amusement park for the last couple of years. Be sure to check ahead of time
how scary it is for you little ones.
• Carving pumpkins is a Halloween tradition I do not enjoy, but the kids love it. Especially if you
can go pick your pumpkin from a farm, then take it home and carve it.
• Decorate your house. Buy the fake spiders and the orange and black napkins that read “Boo to
• Stick to your normal exercise, sleep and food plans. There are 93 meals during the months of
October, they do not all need to be impacted by Halloween. Keep on the path you know to be
the best for you. IM me if you do not know what I am referring to.
• I did not buy Halloween candy for the trick or treaters just yet. I will most likely get Dum-
Dums to pass out to the 10 or so kids we get in my neighborhood.
• Before my kids go out, I make sure they have a real dinner. This can be rough at my house,
especially with it being my daughter’s birthday and the Grandparents are calling. However, if
they go out on an empty stomach, you better believe they eating the giant snickers bar Mike
from down the street hands out first.
• When they get home, I am realistic. They will want to eat some, but I have them drink a ton of
water and pick out a few pieces and then I put the the bags away. I turn on a Halloween movies
and try not to obsess too much.
• If we are getting towards the end of the Halloween night and there is a lot of candy still lurking
around, I give the bulk to a lucky kid at the end.
• November 1, I go to my favorite stores to check out Halloween decorations for next year as
they will be 75% off.
• DO NOT BUY THE CANDY THAT IS ON SALE. Do not go by the aisle, or the section or the
store. For those of you have read my book yet, this is an example of the 2 am booty call!!! I
know this trick as I have done it only about 1,000 times.
• Right around November 3rd, I will buy my kids candy from them. By this point, they have
picked out what they truly love. For the low price of $20.00 or so per kid I can avoid the
cavities, the blood sugar control issues and fights over who ate the last pack of Sour Patch Kids
• We will take the candy and give it the local Fire Department. Then we take their earnings
(usually to Target) and they make their purchases. I would much rather my son have another
Star Wars Lego than a 10 lb. bag of sugar over the next couple of weeks. My daughter now
buys makeup or hair products, but that is fine. This has become a family tradition.
I am often asked, what candy can I eat if I want to eat just one? I do not advocate any of the mass
marketed American candy, but there is a way to occasionally splurge without completely
throwing your life into chaos.
If you are going to have a piece or two (I am cringing as I type this out), here is my
– Indulge in something you truly love. No Meh’s. You know the candy that is always the last to
go, the stuff you got in your trick or treat bag as a kid and you fake smiled to the grown ups,
and groaned to your friends as soon as you were out of earshot? For me Smarties are a giant
– Ideally, you choose candy with protein and fat. Examples would be Snickers, Mounds or
– Indulge when you can pay attention. Don’t pop it in a string of Whoppers in your mouth as the
kids are screaming after soccer but before you have dinner prepared.
– You have the candy at the end of a meal. Brush your teeth afterwards. YOU ARE DONE
Food is only as important as we make it as we head into the dreaded HOLIDAYS. I will go into
strategies and steps you can take to make 2018 the year you didn’t need a New Years Resolution.
Until then, have a Happy Halloween.