Category Archives: Events

halloweencandybinge

What to Do About Halloween Candy

 halloweencandybinge

Wondering what to do about your kids and their Halloween trick-or-treat candy? In a word: enjoy.

In a time when America has grown increasingly health-conscious concurrently with the rising obesity rate, it’s understandable that parents would be frenetic over the couple pounds of candy their children have hoarded each year. So when I say enjoy,  I’m not saying this so much because I think letting a bunch of kids dressed up as Spiderman and Disney characters eat all the candy they want is a healthy choice (although it does make for adorable photos), but that overtly restricting them from their prized candy can result in worse behavior. In a recent Slate article, Melinda W. Moyer cites a study that tested patterns of restricting palatable foods from children. Based on the results, Jennifer Orlet Fisher and Leann Lipps Birch concluded that,

Restricting access focuses children’s attention on restricted foods, while increasing their desire to obtain and consume those foods. Restricting children’s access to palatable foods is not an effective means of promoting moderate intake of palatable foods and may encourage the intake of foods that should be limited in the diet.”

The results are not necessarily surprising. It’s pretty much human nature for someone to desire something when they are specifically told not to, kind of like how when someone tells you not to think about something…and then you instantly think about that thing they mentioned. Furthermore, restricting food access can lead to overeating, obesity, and even develop into eating disorders. Not that these potential results are a risk every time, but the point is it is generally better to find a way to leave your child’s candy on the table, then take it away from them and say no.

Worried about your kids running around like crazy after eating copious amounts of sugar from sweets? Well, fortunately for you there is a growing body of research that finds the mythical link between sugar and hyperactivity to be surprisingly slim. Hyperactivity following an event such as Halloween seems to be a more behavior based association than a physical connection to the consumption of sugar. Similar to the idea of restricting foods from children creates a stronger desire to attain those foods, the placebo effect comes into play surrounding Halloween and trick or treating for candy.

While we do know eating lots of high-fructose candies is not good for you or your child, understanding that behavior plays a a larger role than the actual candy can provide a great opportunity to focus on the other aspects of the Halloween festivities. Remember that the actual act of trick or treating is an exercise in community involvement, friendship building, and social engagement. If you are worried that your child may focus too much on the candy alone, start off by making sure they eat a nutritious dinner  high in fiber before going out in costume. Stress to them about the fun they will have with their friends, what their costumes will look like, who they will see and what new streets and adventures they can go on. You do not have to be strictly covert, but talking about the overall experience of Halloween and focusing on the candy as little as possible can help get them excited about more than just how many Reese’s cups and Butterfingers that will be appearing in their little bags or buckets.

Of course, what makes these studies subjective is their reliance on cause and effect relationships, which can be subjective and tied to the context of say, why you behave the way you do and towards your child and vice versa. Still, one of the most important messages to take away is finding a way to embrace the excitement of Halloween (and the candy that comes with it) and transform that excitement into a well-rounded learning experience. What you do with all that Halloween candy after the big day is up to you,  there are cool alternatives  you can try, but you might as well enjoy the one time a year you’ll have so much sugary goodness in front of you. You might find yourself this once eating too many candies, but hey, it’s not like a few handfuls of Reese’s and Milkway bars were not eaten in the making of this post!

dayofthegirl

Celebrating Day of the Girl

dayofthegirl

In these modern times it seems every day of the year is dedicated to some cause, movement or idea, that builds a social media frenzy before whittling back into the sea of current events. While all these ideas are noteworthy, celebrating Day of the Girl 2013 is about one of those oft-overlooked, paramount issues in our global society that deserves far more than one day of celebration. Gender equality and sexual discrimination are problems that have persisted through centuries of human history, across cultures worldwide, placing women at a disadvantage in both developing and developed countries alike. The role of women in our society, simply put, is one of the most fundamental issues we are so slowly facing in our world today.

The United Nations Day of the Girl was founded only recently in 2012 after a successful campaign led by School Girls Unite, an organization made up of students and young women leaders determined to realize the United Nations Millenium Development Goals related to gender equality and basic universal education. Their stated mission goal is: to “highlight, discuss, celebrate and ultimately advance girls’ lives and opportunities across the globe.” Addressing the neglect and devaluation of women worldwide is at the heart of this awareness campaign.

The focus of this year’s Day of the Girl is on education. The emphasis on “innovating for girls education” is acknowledgment that knowledge is one of the most powerful tools you can have, especially for women. In the words of Kakenya Ntaiya, “An educated girl will delay marriage, she is more likely to have fewer children, her children are more likely to go to school, and she will contribute to the economy of her country.” In light of these concepts, education is obviously something we take for granted. While our education system is considerably underfunded and ripe for improvement, what we have remains an opportunity tens of millions of young girls around the globe are denied access to. We should remember that despite our progress, there are so many achievements yet to be made as a global community, and educating girls on an equal plane as boys is a crucial cog in that universal progress.

Celebrating Day of the Girl encompasses not just advocacy for the education of girls, but also strengthening our own awareness. We must make the effort to take action, come to understand the gender role disparities deeply rooted in our social consciousness. It is up to us to ensure this Day of the Girl grows past this one day of recognition into a substantial matter across the globe. For all the problems facing girls, and they are numerous (violence against women, forced marriage, less rights, denied access to education, lack of economic opportunity, among others) understanding the incredible value that can be gained by placing  them on equal footing as their male counterparts is the best step towards positively transforming our society in ways that we have yet to imagine.

Labor Day background.

Labor Day Activities

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Labor Day  reminds me a lot of the 4th of July. Beaches are crowded, traffic to any desirable location is jammed, and parking is typically scarce. With such overcrowding, the convenience of a couch and/or backyard is more than inviting. While backyard activities on a much needed work day off is certainly respectable, there are still several ways to make the most of your day off while avoiding some Labor Day traffic. Here are a few highlights to choose from on this mostly sunny, warm weather holiday.

Scavenger Hunt

I’ve mentioned scavenger hunts before as an excellent opportunity to get kids active and exploring. Well, why not try, try again? Give everyone a chance to spread out the treasures around your home, backyard, and street so that even you find yourself on the prowl for those special items (items can be whatever you choose!)

Visiting the Farmer’s Market

Holidays are usually a time to do some home cooking, so why not bring the family to the local farmer’s market and have everyone pick out something delicious of their choosing? Farmer’s markets are fun and full of people that know their local produce and can educate the children (and perhaps even yourself) on how the plants are grown and what you could use them for in a recipe. It provides a great opportunity to teach where fruits and vegetables come from before biting into your tasty treats

Park Hopping

This may seem like an unconventional choice, but rather than make camp for the day at one park, try hopping from park to park getting children to explore multiple play structures and unique landscapes. Spending some time at each park can be a change up, and also relieve you from sticking around with large crowds. Spontaneous, simple and unexpected fun is often the best kind of adventure. Park hopping can be fun and give kids the opportunity to learn for themselves, outdoors and across playgrounds.