By: Alison Dunn Oct 26, 2010
Little monsters

Most kids think Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Not my kids. For them, the very best day of the year is now just five short days away. And yet, it’s the day I dread most of all.

Why do my kids love Halloween so much? It’s because they are the very definition of chocolate lovers. You give them a piece of chocolate, they think they’ve died and gone to heaven. Kit Kat, Smarties, Coffee Crisp, Caramilk, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, M&Ms… they love them all.

The only problem is that eating chocolate turns both my kids into little monsters. I know many health professionals say there is no link between eating sugary treats and bad behavior, but I also know that when my kids eat chocolate, they get nasty. They snap at me. They get grouchy. Their sunny personalities disappear and I’m left with two angry, snarling beasts where my children once stood.

I first noticed it when I was toilet training my oldest son. Every time he used the potty, he got two M&Ms. He was thrilled (even then, he adored chocolate), and started going for me all the time. He then started using the potty when he didn’t really have to go – he just wanted to get his M&Ms.

But he also started to get progressively nastier as the days wore on. I complained to my mother, “The toilet training is changing his personality! I don’t know why, but he’s having more temper tantrums, he’s not napping well and he’s just generally grouchier!”

Of course, he also wasn’t going to get rewarded for using the potty forever (imagine a 16-year-old running out of the bathroom yelling, “I went mom! Where’s my Smartie?!”). Once he was trained, I stopped with the M&Ms… and my sunshiny little boy returned.

By the time the next Halloween rolled around, it became pretty clear it was the chocolate that made him nasty. Then I noticed the same trend in my younger son. Something about their body chemistry just can’t handle an overload of chocolate – and never am I more aware of that than at Halloween.

It turns out I’m not alone. Many other mothers have reported to me that their children, too, turn into little monsters when they overindulge in chocolate, candy or excess sugar. And while there may not be a direct link between bad behaviour and excess sugar consumption, we do know that sugar is partly to blame for a host of other health problems. As many of our expert contributors here on Primacy Life have told me, there is really nothing good about eating processed, refined sugars.

Perhaps that’s why the mere whiff of Halloween candy turns my sons into raving beasts. Perhaps their bodies just can’t handle the overload of refined sugars that they normally only enjoy in moderation. Whatever the reason, it takes a lot of patience on my part to make it through Halloween and the aftermath each year.

That’s why for the rest of this week on Primacy Life, we’re going to be tackling some of these topics to help us parents make it through this “wonderful” time of the year. Starting tomorrow, we’ll be looking at ways to control the amount of junk your kids eat, offer help for healthy Halloween parties and even provide tips on how to keep your little ghosts and goblins safe on the street this year. If you’re a parent, you don’t want to miss a minute of our Halloween coverage.

And if you can’t tame the little monsters after all? Just remember that eventually the candy will be gone and your kids will finally return to normal.

Just in time for Christmas!

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.