I see you momma…you’re caught between wanting to let your kids (and yourself) enjoy all the holiday treats because YOLO. It brings you joy to see them excited. You’re finding a balance between letting them indulge in all the goodies they bring home from school during the holidays and secretly trashing most of it. It can be stressful and many times you’re left feeling like it’s just not worth the battle. Where you draw your line in the sand and the battles you choose to fight are personal decisions and you have to make choices you feel are best fit for your specific family’s health and well-being.
Holistic Realistic Living
In our family, we strive towards an 80/20 lifestyle. We try to practice clean, balanced and healthy eating the majority of the time, while still giving ourselves the freedom and guilt-free pleasure of enjoying the treats occasionally. Eighty percent of the time we are super intentional about how we’re fueling our bodies nutritionally, while enjoying the extra stuff about 20% of the time. However, I will say that even while we’re treating ourselves to something we don’t regularly eat/drink, I still try to choose the healthier version of the options that are available. Thankfully, it’s becoming a bit easier to make those swaps!
Sweet Treat Ingredients to Avoid
Even when we are reaching for those sweet indulgences, there are some ingredients that we aim to avoid altogether because they are proven to have a negative impact on our health. They include:
Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Also known as “trans fats.” The FDA has actually required companies to remove this category of ingredients from “certain uses” by 2020/2021 because they have been tied to heart disease, chronic fatigue, neurotoxin syndrome and inflammation, and even cancer. However, products that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving are considered having 0 grams of trans fats. This may seem like a negligible amount, but consider how many servings are in the entire container and how many you might eat in one sitting. In addition, many products are being allowed to remain in circulation during a “grace period” after the FDA made its announcement.
Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 2, Green 3…no I’m not referring to fancy plays yelled by a quarterback at the line of scrimmage. These are artificial dyes that run rampant not only in candy, but energy drinks, toothpastes, jello, breakfast cereals, yogurt and more. While they sure do make the food we eat more fun to look at, they have also been linked to cancer, allergies, asthma and ADHD. A review published by Prescrire International reported that nearly 300 children showed higher hyperactivity when consuming artificial food colors in a double-blind placebo controlled trial.
Of course pretty much all sweet treats will contain sugar…but this isn’t the type of sugar you’ll find in a piece of fruit. We’re talking about the super processed sugar substitutes like dextrose, glucose syrup and high fructose corn syrup that are highly inflammatory. These types of sugars can be really hard on your liver, and increase risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Ya just never quite know what you’re getting with these because they’re made in a lab. Many are made with petrochemicals and emulsifiers. Vanillin, a commonly used artificial flavor, is easy to pronounce and sounds relatively harmless. However it’s made from wood pulp or petrochemicals. Castoreum extract, another vanilla flavor stand in, is actually derived from the anal glands (yes you read the right) and is used for its sweet odor. There are about 1,300 ingredients that are “ok’d” by the FDA to be used in the production of artificial flavors, and companies are not required to list the ingredients they used.
Artificial Preservatives (TBGQ, BHT/ BHA)
They are also referred to as “additives”. The irony is that they are designed to prolong shelf life, making food more convenient and “safer” by delaying spoilage and contamination. However, sustained consumption can lead to respiratory problems, hyperactive behavior in children, weakened heart tissue and even increased risks of certain types of cancer. BHT is a preservative that has actually been banned and/or heavily restricted in other countries due to its link to cancer. TBHQ is derived from butane (aka lighter fluid).
A food additive that enhances flavor and is not just limited to Chinese food! It can be found in candies, gum, fruit snacks and sometimes iced tea mixes, soft drinks and granola bars. It can act as a disruptor for neurotransmitters resulting in adverse behavioral effects and is commonly known for causing symptoms like headaches and hives and can lead to insulin resistance.
So basically we should never eat any type of candy, chocolate or any kid of food that makes life worth living.
Of course not!
Eating a Reese’s peanut butter cup ain’t gonna kill ya. Just like eating a carrot won’t make you healthy. It’s the sustained habits that will give our bodies the fuel they need for the long haul. However, being aware of what’s in the products we consume and what they are good/not good for will give us the powerful knowledge we need to make wise decisions about what we allow/don’t allow to enter our systems, knowing the potential damage they may cause.
Now onto the good stuff!
13 Best Clean Ingredient Candy Swaps for Valentine’s Day
Here are some healthier swaps you can make when it comes to sweet treats for you and your family for Valentine’s Day or when you can’t fight that hankering! They are just as (if not more) tasty as the other stuff, but with WAY less toxins.
- HU chocolate
- Justin’s peanut, almond/cashew butter cups
- Smashmallow – They come in a variety of flavors. We even like to top our hot chocolate with them!
- Smash Gummy
- YumEarth – They come in gummies, lollipops, jellybeans, hard candies and licorice
- Theo Chocolate
- Beyond Good
- Glee, Hum, Simply Gum – all better options for chewing gum that don’t have artificial flavors, aspartame or dyes)
- Gin Gins
These are usually my “go to” brands when shopping for treats for our family for whatever the occasion may be and I can say without hesitation, these are all “kid approved” by all the kids in this house! There are also a few easy and healthy homemade options for sweet snacking that I’ll share in a later post.
P.S. If you’d like some additional ideas on how to make Valentine’s Day special for the whole family in addition to healthy sweet treats, head over to my other post!
Here’s to making sweet Valentine’s Day memories with your loves!
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