An important holiday is coming up this week. It stands as the marker to the beginning of a two-month long American sugar binge. I realize this makes me sounds like a bit of a Grinch. I love Halloween for the costumes, the creativity, and the spookiness. I don’t love it for the emphasis on sugar. As John Oliver points out in his brilliant monologue, it would be one thing if we didn’t already overeat sugar all year round but the fact is, we do. If we’re each eating, as Oliver puts it, Michael Cera’s body weight in sugar every year, then all the “treats” at Halloween aren’t really even treats anymore. When we are a nation with a growing waistline, and ever increasing rates of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease sugar does not deserve its own holiday.
I am a self-admitted Food Network addict. Although, after watching some of the programming lately, I have to say this may be coming to an end. While I appreciate the work they have done in raising the public’s awareness of the culinary arts and the value of home-cooked meals, I can’t get over their complete lack of any nutritional guidance. Even just watching their Halloween and holiday programming puts me in a sugar coma. They promote all kinds of Halloween treats with no regard to the fact that looking for more creative ways to consume sugar is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. For example, I shuddered watching Alton Brown make his candied apples for trick-or-treaters as he dumped corn syrup, sugar, and molasses into a big pot. He briefly mentioned the research on artificial food colorings and ADHD in children and then decided to dump the red coloring into his concoction anyway. That is when I turned the TV off.
In terms of our health I think it’s important that we start celebrating what really matters during this slew of holidays rather than making them a worship of sugar and gluttony. These times should be a celebration of creativity, family, and gratitude. In order to fully be present and enjoy the holidays, we can’t forget to use food to nourish our health and our spirit. It is more difficult to enjoy these celebrations when you are sick. We are, after all, also entering into peak flu and cold season, and maybe it’s not such a coincidence that this happens during our nationally condoned two-month sugar fest.
If you didn’t get enough with my rant, watch this one from John Oliver.