The Great Candy Swap

If you’re a parent you know when it comes to avoiding candy, the struggle is real. Candy is cleverly placed in front of our children constantly, especially during the holidays. Clever marketing, commercials, billboards, cereal boxes, vending machines and eye-level placement at grocery stores. At times it feels like the marketing giants are winning. Let’s look first at what we’re trying to avoid our children ingesting and why.

Candy has 5 major ingredient issues to be aware of:

  1. Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar: The sugar in your child’s candy isn’t just typical cane sugar. You’ll find various types of artificial sweeteners that trick your tastebuds and brain. All of the artificial sweeteners have been linked to handfuls of ailments like anxiety, addiction,  headaches, memory loss, acne, diarrhea, and hives. Recent science has linked these sweeteners to diseases such as dementia, obesity, diabetes, cancer and kidney failure.  Sugar on its own is really dangerous but adding in the rest of the chemical additives just make artificial sweeteners a “hard no” in our house. Sugar is connected to horrible ailments and terminal diseases. It’s important to recognize that the average American today is eating 2-3 pounds of sugar per week. Granulated sugar is highly addicting because our bodies are programmed to crave and want sweet food but enter the flavor industry and this craving is magnified. Take a look at this breakdown from Harvard on sweeteners.
    Artificial sweetenerBrand namesSweetness as compared to sugar
    AspartameEqual®, NutraSweet®, others180 times sweeter than sugar
    Acesulfame-KSunett®, Sweet One®200 times sweeter than sugar
    SaccharinSweet’N Low®, Necta Sweet®, others300 times sweeter than sugar
    SucraloseSplenda®600 times sweeter than sugar
    NeotameNo brand names7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar
    AdvantameNo brand names20,000 times sweeter than sugar
  2. Artificial Colors: Artificial colors are commonly derived from petroleum products. These additives have been linked to many health concerns, including allergic reactions, behavioral changes, and even cancer. Blue No. 1 Brilliant Blue, Blue No. 2 Indigotine,  Green No. 3 Fast Green, Red No. 3 Erythrosine, Red No. 40 Allura Red, Yellow No. 5 Tartrazine and Yellow No. 6 Sunset Yellow. Most of these colors are banned in other countries but the FDA continues to allow them into our food supply.
  3. GMOs: “GMOs (genetically modified organism) are the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.” Current GMO ingredients are derived from genetically engineered corn, soy, cottonseed, sugar beets, and canola crops. Unfortunately, you cannot avoid GMOs by looking for them on the label. The only way to avoid GMOs is to purchase certified organic.
  4. Artificial Flavors: Certain flavor additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and sodium carry highly addictive properties thanks to the flavor industry. This side of the food industry is responsible for that flavor profile that creates an intense craving for certain products. Harmful ingredients remain unlisted under ‘artificial flavors’, ‘natural flavors’ or ‘contains artificial and natural flavors.’ The FDA does a poor job of regulating these ingredients and rather deems them as GRAS or “generally recognized as safe.”
  5. Petrochemicals and Preservatives: TBHQ, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), Sodium Nitrate, Potassium Sorbate, Sulfites, and Polysorbate 60, 65 and 80.

Because of these horrible ingredients, I have to give a “high five to hell no” to my child eating conventional junk food candy ever again. Who’s with me? Thanks, Tina Fey! 

While the corporations are constantly working against your desire to keep your little one healthy, don’t fret, I’ve got you. What you need is a hack for the candy holidays. You know what I’m talking about, Halloween, Easter and Valentine’s Day. Don’t let this candy trifecta get you down!  Introducing the “Great Candy Swap.” Cue the dramatic music and take a big deep slow breath. Things will get easier if you implement these rules asap.

This is how we perform the swap in 3 easy steps:

  1. Swap: When my daughter comes home with a huge sack full of horrific Halloween candy, we count the pieces and decide what type of organic candy she would like to replace it with. We do an equal trade ie: a piece of junk for the piece of organic special treat. You can do the same with Easter baskets or Valentines. See tips
  2. Drop: We take the junk food products and compost them in a special compost that doesn’t get used in our garden. We typically don’t have much in this compost but we use on our decorative plants like carving pumpkins and flowers. If you don’t compost, you can opt to use your garbage disposal as the candy garbage monster. 🙂
  3. Roll: We then take the organic candy and put it in her snack drawer for when she wants a special treat. I also give her the option to trade the candy for a special gift if she doesn’t want candy. Often times she would rather have a gift than candy since we have a high amount of fruit and homemade treats which are healthier options for her. You know your child, what will appeal to them or let them roll the dice.

Our Swap Experience:

I find that the great candy swap keeps her from ingesting candy that has addictive additives and therefore she doesn’t crave the junk because she hasn’t developed a dependency on any of the chemicals cleverly used by the food giants. She also doesn’t miss out on the fun of the holiday with her friends. The best part is she gets a treat without compromising her health. She has never complained and we’ve been doing this since she was a toddler, so it’s a tradition. She commented the other day that she’s happy she can have chocolate without the “side effects.” She said a lot of her friends are sick after holidays from eating too much junk candy. She’s old enough to see the cause and effect thankfully. When we buy candy for other people on holidays or as gifts, it’s always organic and she feels good about gifting it to others. We’ve yet to have someone complain that they received organic candy from us instead of cheap drugstore candy. 🙂 #shocker

How To Hack Your Holiday Great Candy Swap:

  • The key is to make the swap fun for your kids.
  • Don’t give in and let them have “just one piece.” This doesn’t work thanks to the addictive chemicals. It’s why we can’t have just one chip or one cookie or one sip of soda. Your child after having “just one piece” is going to look for a way to get more. They will drive you crazy by begging you for more or sneak some when you’re not looking.  Can you blame them? It’s chemical and has nothing to do with willpower or the desire to listen to their parents.
  • Be prepared with alternatives during the event and make time to swap after the event. Alternatively, you can agree to bake or make something they love. This goes a long way with a kid that loves to bake or never gets time in the kitchen.
  • Make a theme song for your swap so it’s a fun part of the holiday.
  • Lastly, everyone has to be on board for this to work. Meaning you can’t sneak that Reese’s peanut butter cup into the house or at the event and then tell them they can’t have them. Get on the organic train together and model what it’s like to feel good, and treat your body good.

Thankfully organic brands have made organic candy alternatives and they are now widely available at Target, Amazon and your local grocery store. So, doing a swap is easy peasy. I’ve pulled together my picks for the three big “candy holidays” so you can easily swap using these guides.You can use these guides for any holiday or simply just look for products that carry the certified organic logo. If you’re not sure what organic actually means, use this guide below. This is a great graphic to share if someone challenges your bad-assery choice to raise healthy kids. Fight em’ with facts ladies and forgive them during flu season when your immune system is good to go. 🙂 




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