My sister and I grew up with big holiday celebrations. Both our parents really enjoyed making a fuss out of the holidays by decorating the house and cooking big meals. Part of the magic of these celebrations was the abundance of sweets—candy canes in Christmas stockings, Christmas cookies in a big tree-shaped cookie jar on the kitchen counter, a chocolate yule log and pies served on Christmas day, and even a box of our favorite treats from a local penny candy store under the tree!
As a mother, I have carried on the tradition of making a big deal of the holidays, but I had to pause when it came to the candy. I had long ago removed most of the sugar from my diet and eat mostly clean, organic, whole foods. So it’s not easy for me to watch my small children fill themselves with chemicals and toxins from artificial food dyes and preservatives—no matter how much they enjoy their sweets. Yet, I wanted them to experience the same delight of colorful, yummy treats on special occasions as my sister and I did when we were young.
While I certainly don’t think sugar is great for our health or our children’s health—what really bothers me about candy is the food dyes, additives, and preservatives. Artificial food dyes have been linked to hyperactivity, ADHD, cancer and food allergies. For more detailed information about the effects of food dyes check out the article Just Say No to Blue, Red, Blue and Yellow on one of our favorite websites Healthy Child, Healthy World.
Here’s what goes through my head when I’m in the grocery store deciding whether or not to buy candy… Who makes this stuff and markets it to kids? And don’t they care about what they’re feeding children? I try to use my power as a consumer to choose products made without artificial food dyes… if enough people stop buying what they’re selling, maybe they’ll make a change. We know big companies have the ability to make many foods with natural dyes because they have replaced artificial food dyes with natural food dyes in Europe, but continue to sell the same product here in the United States with the artificial food dyes. See the article “Toxins on our Kid’s food.” If we’re going to see a change, we need to create the demand in this country by being conscious consumers.
Now typically my sister and I don’t mention products in our blogs, but occasionally a product or resource strikes us as “in service” and we want to share. That’s how Alison and I feel about the Natural Candy Store, which has candy with “no artificial colors or dyes, no artificial flavors, no artificial preservatives, no artificial sweeteners and no hydrogenated oils.” Much of the candy is also organic. Of course it’s still candy and has sugar, which I’m not saying is healthful, but in moderation and on holidays I think it’s exactly what it should be—a treat. For the most part I can handle watching them eat sugar on holidays knowing that at least I didn’t fill their bodies with chemicals!
Natural Holiday Candy Resources:
And since baking cookies and making gingerbread houses is such a big part of the season, you may also want to check out these healthier green, red, white and blue sprinkles and the natural red, green and blue food coloring for frosting.