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Tricks to Stop the Treats

Janis Covey

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Halloween is here and so is the dreaded candy.  If you’re like me, you try to have your children eat healthy and steer clear of artificial dyes, high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar, and then Halloween sneaks up, out of nowhere, threatening to fill your children with all the garbage you have been working so hard to avoid.  Now don’t get me wrong, I want my children to enjoy the whole Halloween experience.  I want them to dress up and go trick or treating with their friends.  What I don’t want is them eating candy for days and weeks after.

To avoid this sugar binge, here are a few of the strategies I have used:

1.     Let the kids hand out the candy:  After they have had their fun trick or treating, my girls love to come back and hand out candy, they are always bummed when the last pieces are gone and we have to turn off the light.  In the past, to keep the fun going, they have given out the candy they received while trick or treating.  They pick out a couple of favorites and then enjoy some more time seeing other kids' costumes and handing out candy a little longer.

2.     Swap it:  Have you heard of the Great Pumpkin or the Switch Witch?  One of them shows up after your kids go to bed and take all the candy and leave your child a prize instead.

3.     Donate it:  Operation Gratitude collects Halloween candy every year to send to our troops.  Get more information here.  You could also reach out to a local nursing home.

Now, I know what you’re thinking!  What do we give out for Halloween?  You don’t want your kids to eat it, so how can you give it out?!  Here are a few healthier options:

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1.     Non-candy treat:  There are so many options!  Hot chocolate packets, mini pretzel snack bags, bubbles, activity pads, slap bracelets.  The list could go on and on.

2.      Money:  I don’t know about you but growing up there was a house that always gave coins instead of candy.  This was my favorite house to go to.  They handed out quarters and I loved to add the coins to my piggy bank and dream about what I was saving for.

3.     If candy is a must, go organic. I realize no candy is truly healthy but if you're sticking with the classic Trick or Treat fare then why not make it organic and free of artificial dyes.  Yum Earth has some great options.

In the comments below, tell me your ideas to avoid the sugar high Halloween usually brings.

Tips to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Kerri Vilaverde

It feels like an hour ago we were enjoying the summer at the beach.  A half hour ago, school started. And now, present moment, I’m getting email reminders about flu shots.  In the blink of an eye, it's time to think about cold and flu season. According to the CDC, flu cases start to increase in October and peak between December and February.   

And if you thought I was going to remind you to take preventative measures…….well babe, you are spot on.  You may have a future as a psychic someday. Here we go...

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  1. Wash your hands with soap and water several times a day.  Especially before eating or picking up your cousin’s adorable newborn. If soap and water aren’t available, grab a squirt of hand sanitizer.  

  2. Break the bad habit of touching your face, especially, the eyes, nose, and mouth.  The average person touches their face several times per hour. We don’t even realize we are doing it!

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  1. Sneeze and cough into tissues, not your hands.  Remind those kiddos too.

  2. Avoid close contact with sick people.  

  3. If you are sick, please stay home from work and school etc. until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hrs.

  4. Consider something to boost your immunity.  I like elderberry syrup or gummies. Elderberry can reduce swelling of mucous membranes helping with congestion and has been found to reduce the duration of colds and flu by a couple of days. Click here for our elderberry syrup recipe.

  5. Continue your healthy habits of exercising, eating lots of delicious and nutritious foods, and getting your 8 hrs of rest.

  6. Try to get a handle on your stress.  De-stressing can strengthen your immunity. That’s the best reason ever to finally learn how to meditate or try that yoga exercise video.

  7. Get some fresh air. Germs are not stronger in the colder months.  We just catch them more often in the colder months because we hibernate indoors where it is dry from the heat and full of everyone else’s germs.  If you can manage it, consider walking the few extra blocks instead of jumping on the subway. The air and vitamin D will do you good.

Confessions of a Green Swap Convert

Kerri Vilaverde

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I keep seeing an ad pop up on my Instagram for these little reusable sandwich bags.  They are cute and patterned and look adorable. But I haven’t pulled the trigger on them yet.  I’ve always been a devoted ziplock girl. I LOVE ziplock bags. To try to reduce my impact, I wash and reuse them a couple times.  But still…I know…I need to kick this habit. And I know it's not my only bad habit. I know there are other things I shouldn’t be doing but I prefer to ignore that little voice in my brain.  It's time to stop ignoring it.

We all know the various dangers of plastics.  Not only to the environment but to ourselves and our children.  We all ran out and got BPA free bottles when the news told us to and stopped putting the Tupperware in the microwave.  I saw an article this week that says you should also not put it in the dishwasher! I didn’t know that. That was the kick I needed to finish my conversion to glass food storage containers.  And I need to switch the kid's water bottles from plastic to stainless steel. It’s ok to do these things one at a time. Changing a lifetime of habits is hard! (Or saying no to a free plastic water bottle apparently.)

In addition to the above, I came up with a list of ideas for easy swaps we can do around the house to help a little bit.

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  1. Ditch that plastic shower curtain.  Especially if it is made from polyvinyl chloride AKA PVC.  They emit VOCs, phthalates, and potentially lead. Many large retail stores have either stopped using PVC or committed to phasing it out over the course of several years.  To be completely safe you can switch to a cotton or fabric shower curtain liner. Just be sure to wash it regularly.

  2. Paper Towels.  This was a huge thing in the house I grew up in.  We used paper towels for everything. Some of us, who shall remain nameless (my brother), still do.  Bought in bulk so you never run out. It is estimated that one person uses 45 lbs of paper towels a year.  Even if you love the cleanliness and convenience, think of the money you will save and can spend on something else!!!

  3. Plastic grocery bags….UGH.  We all have those reusable bags.  Put them on the front seat of your car so you don’t forget like me!  If you make a commitment to yourself to use them and have to walk back to the car to get them, maybe you won’t forget the next time?  Or maybe you will increase your steps on your Fitbit on shopping days. That’s good too.

  4. Plastic produce bags!  You don’t need them. You can bring your own reusable bag.  Or just put those avocados right in the cart. They are fine.

  5. Cloth napkins!  I’m proud of this one!  We made this switch a while back.  I have to thank friends that had us over for dinner for the idea.  Instead of actual cloth napkins, we used super thick and absorbent face cloths.  It felt so luxurious. I went and bought a package of face cloths in tomato sauce camouflaging colors!  Super-absorbable and cost-effective. To be even more green, you can cut them from old towels too!  

  6. Give up the K cups and go with old school brew.  Or get a beautiful french press and tell your friends it’s a more authentic experience... then invite them over to try it.  Maybe there is something to making coffee even more of an enjoyable event every day.

  7. Greenify your cleaning products.  This is so so soooo easy. Green cleaning products are available everywhere now, and at competitive prices.  If you are feeling ambitious there are lots of recipes on the internet to DIY. Or just let someone else do all the R&D for you.

  8. Compostable dog waste bags.  Seriously, are you putting the most compostable thing on earth into a plastic bag that will never break down?  Don’t quote me on the science there, but you get what I’m saying.

  9. Say goodbye to plastic wrap.   There is a really cool wrap that has beeswax over a thin piece of cloth to make it moldable and you just rinse and reuse.  

  10. Use a dryer ball instead of dryer sheets.  I tried a tennis ball but it made a latex smell all over the house.  I suggest a real dryer ball. Try one made of wool! No plastic or rubber smell to worry about.  Or try line drying if the pollen in your neck of the woods isn't trying to kill you.

If you stuck with me through this list you can see that I have some work to do.  That’s ok. We are all just humans trying to do our best. We can do this together.  What swaps are you going to make first?