Reunion alert! Bernie and I are back with our first podcast in a minute. We actually recorded this October 20, 2022… but evidently the Switch B* (err… I mean…) The Switch Witch is still around… and we have thoughts.
My kids (then 8 and 9 years old) came to me and asked “Mom, do we believe in the switch witch?” I responded, “Never heard of her.” They said, “Good, because she takes away your candy and that’s just MEAN!.” After some assurance from me, the girls decided to make a “Go Away” sign and put it over their Halloween buckets. Bernie has his own story to share about discovering the book and what to make of it for his young kids. If you know Bernie at all, you know he has a looooooooong history of being harmed by diet culture. He’s trying to break the chain as a father and protect his kids.
Based on our values and viewpoints, you probably can guess what we think of this… here’s what you need to know:
- Switch Witch is for PROFIT… selling this idea that the “switch witch” is your friend who plays with you the days leading up to Halloween and surprises you with a gift in exchange for some of your Halloween candy.
- They sell the idea “All the fun without all the candy!” (So, YOU get to be KIND to this supposed “friend,” and this B takes your candy?! Make it make sense!)
- It’s marketed as a “healthy” Halloween tradition.
Tune in and have a happy Halloween by trusting yourself, your preferences, and your relationship to food. If you want to do something “healthy,” brush your teeth before bed.
This episode is sponsored by Self Care for Diabetes.
Looking for support for a diabetes or pre-diabetes diagnosis? I’d love to welcome you to Self-Care For Diabetes Membership.
Join me and fellow HAES-friendly dietitian Glenys Oyston in our friendly, supportive community where you can learn how to care for your overall well-being without a weight focus.
Our 14 modules cover all things intuitive eating, movement, carbohydrates, stress resilience, diagnosis shame and much more. Check out all the modules here.
Join us today and you can come along to our next live group call on Tuesday 14 November.
Bernie Salazar is a recovering chronic dieter and former contestant on Season 5 of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Realizing that you can’t hate yourself healthy, Bernie has been a student of the body kindness philosophy for over three years. You can follow his journey to self-acceptance on the Body Kindness Learn & Grow series where, under the guidance of his mentor and friend Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN he’s worked to unpack both his experience on and off the Biggest Loser. Finally embracing that his true, happy and healthy self was always meant to have a fat body, he encourages others to practice body kindness and work to heal our relationships with ourselves.
Listen to more of Bernie’s journey in the Learn & Grow Series.
Rebecca Scritchfield 0:00
This episode is brought to you by Self-care for Diabetes, a virtual online program that's doing diabetes care differently. We don't tell you to lose weight. Instead, we help you create positive and meaningful changes that make your life with diabetes better than before. Visit selfcare4diabetes.com to learn more.
Welcome to the Body Kindness podcast. I'm your host, Rebecca Scritchfield and I'm here to help you find your inner caregiver. You will have more compassion, less shame, and the tools you need to deal with a culture that just does not want you to be free to give yourself fierce love. You are welcome and you belong in our community, where we value your well-being, we share our experiences and support each other on the body kindness journey. And we know that your health and your worth is not dependent on your weight. If you would like to enjoy self-care, be less self-critical and make your life about more than your health routines, join us at bodykindnessbook.com/start.
Hey, Bernie, what's going on?
Bernie Salazar 1:21
Becca, it has been way too long. All our listeners. I know, all our listeners, I miss you. I hope that you had a wonderful year because it's almost as though we're wrapping it up now. And I'm excited about today's conversation. One, because I miss you. Two, because I miss our listeners. And three because this seems really interesting what we're about to talk about today. You brought it to my attention and I was kind of taken aback. But I'm going to let you go ahead and jump in and let our listeners kind of hear a little bit about what we'll be talking about today.
Rebecca Scritchfield 1:57
Sure, yeah. Um, so I'm all about the Switch Witch right now.
Bernie Salazar 2:04
Rebecca Scritchfield 2:05
The Switch Witch. And, so it is, first of all, thankfully, I never had, the one thing I didn't have to deal with when I was still trick or treating and everything like that. But I first heard about it through my kids, which I also don't like because I was like, whose mom do I have to fight today. Right. But yeah, it was several years ago and I honestly think it went way over my kid's head. So you know, my kids are, how old are they now? Eight and ten. But, it came up again when one of my daughters looked at me and said, "Hey mom, is the Switch Witch true? Is it real? Is it true?" And I'm thinking oh no, because you know, they got the Easter Bunny and Santa and all these things. And I was like, I don't know what the Switch Witch is. So you know, and I just kind of played dumb. And they, I'll say that they're like, they said that they heard it from a friend. And you know, and I said, well tell me about it. And basically, you're allowed and maybe it's different depending on the parent, but it sounds very like, to me it sounds very driven. Like diet culture driven, good/bad foods, sugar phobia driven. So it's like you're allowed to dress up, you're allowed to knock and say trick or treat and all that. But then, while you're sleeping at night, the Switch Witch comes in takes all your candy and gives you a plan B gift, you know your candy is gone but here you go.
Bernie Salazar 3:52
So yes, yeah. So when you brought it to my attention, I had not heard about it because, Halloween is kind of a big deal around my house. We have my little guy whose birthday is very close to Halloween. My daughter, it's gotta be in her top three holidays that we choose to celebrate. So yeah, you told me about Switch Witch and I'm like, what is this? And of course Becca, I'm going to just share it how you shared it, you're like, can you believe this? This is this switch thing and I don't know, you know if you've heard about it, or how you feel about it, and I had shared that I didn't know much about it. So I looked into it. And for those listeners who are not familiar with Switch Witch, it is a story written by a woman by the name of Audrey Kinsman.
Rebecca Scritchfield 4:42
I won't hold her name against her.
Bernie Salazar 4:44
I know. I know. One of Rebecca's babies has that same name, they share names. But she wrote a story much like what you've described where witches supposedly need candy to power their brooms and homes. And out of all the spells that witches do know, they do not have a spell to create candy. So what a child can do is pretty much go out there and serve as a little foot soldier and gather as much candy as they can fit in their bag on Halloween. And then place it out that night, Halloween night along with a note of potential things, or toys because witches apparently do have spells for toys, where they could switch their candy for toys because again, it's going to heat witches houses, it's going to power their brooms. So there's this big exchange that's taking place. The story itself was cute. Okay, just the story. I know Becca. You guys, listeners you have to hear or you have to see her face. What I mean by cute is the fact that the illustrations are fun. My credit goes to the illustrations. I didn't see anything that specifically talked about cavities or fat little kids. Because I was fully expecting fat little kids and grow into fat big trolls. I mean, my mind went there, right? So, I don't agree with this idea of switching. But I did at least remain open to the quality of the story. I love children's books, my background is in education. I get it, they're trying to create kind of like a Santa Claus esque figure except this character takes instead of really gives. I guess they give a toy. But for me, you know, of course there's this underlying like diet culture type - what's better for you vibe. Now, let me just say one more thing before you chime in Becca, because I know your chomping here on candy to share your opinion here.
I'm chomping on Reese's cups.
Yes. See had you traded those in you could have got a great toy for those. But I guess the authors, one of the authors, children or child, I guess apparently had type one diabetes and that was kind of one of the reasons that led to her wanting to create a different tradition in her home. And then I guess thought to herself, oh, this could be a healthy, and I say that using finger quotes, alternative for many families. Now, if there are families who are dealing with children, which, surprise, surprise, we have an expert here on diabetes and children. You know, you tell me Becca. I'm going to defer to you. What do you think about that now, knowing what I think was my condensed version of the backstory on this?
Rebecca Scritchfield 8:09
Yeah, I appreciate it. I didn't even know there was a book. But as I'm listening, I was like, so it's a guilt trip, then. If you don't give your candy, the witches are gonna freeze in their houses, and their brooms can't go anywhere. There'll be no more Halloween at all.
Bernie Salazar 8:26
So they literally can't even fly to a warmer place. Like they cannot do it.
Rebecca Scritchfield 8:32
Um, yeah, so that's my reaction to that. Right. That's the scariest thing I've ever heard. Talk about Halloween frights. Um, but no, I mean, I do think we'll get to the, you know, type one diabetes aspect within this sort of, from a values standpoint, I 100% will always defend an individual's autonomy. Number one body autonomy. And then in terms of like a household, this is how we do it in our house. I have no business policing anyone else's choices as much as I don't want them to police mine. And, that is just a strong moral ground. It's how I can live in a world where there's gastric bypass surgery or people still dieting and sleep at night and not feel like I have to firefight every single problem that's out there. So blanketly I will say that and speaking back from my experience of how I found out about it, you know, with my kids is, they asked about it, well, this is what happens with the neighbor. And they were like so we don't understand why don't we get to write down wishes for other things we want. And so it was like this kind of this missing out of things. And then they were just like, but wait a minute, we don't get to enjoy our candy? It was a whole processing thing. We kind of left it as hey, a lot of stuff is what you believe in. Do you guys like what we do for Halloween and candy? Yeah, so don't worry about the Switch Witch, don't worry about what someone else is doing. I know this neighbor does not have type one diabetes. It's literally, I don't know, it could be, I could think of a lot of possible reasons. I was just meeting with adolescent clients this past weekend. And, we're just kind of talking ahead about all kinds of different things. Sometimes it's about fuel and their soccer or whatever this and that with food. And this, you know, adolescent, was like, I don't like candy, but I'll take chocolate. So there could be this thing where just in general your child loves to participate in costuming and can give or take the candy. And for whatever reason you feel the desire to give yet another gift. And say you want to do something with that candy that's more meaningful. I don't want to completely say that there's not a single good reason for why people would not want to choose their way. I just have very, very, very strong feelings that as long as we live in a world where sugar is bad, and candy is bad, and where we think it's okay to police things. You know, I know that this trend is not just about type one diabetes, it's not just about a food allergy or intolerances and they've got teal pumpkins, you know, I love the idea of kids trick or treating for other toys and money and different things. You know, but deep deep down there
Bernie Salazar 11:37
Hey, share the teal pumpkin thing for those listeners that aren't aware of it.
Rebecca Scritchfield 11:41
Yeah, I think it's a great thing to participate in. And it's just ,you can have a pumpkin and you could paint it teal, you can print out a version of it, you could have teal pumpkins you go trick or treating with and it's basically a way to easily identify as allergy friendly. So that you might have like money, or a toy, stickers, Pop Its that are bracelets you know, basically like non-candy options, peanut free options, that kind of a thing. We could absolutely share link to it or whatever. But again, I just think that there are a lot of really helpful and positive ways that you can make Halloween be about people and food. And even if you have concerns about how much candy your kid is going to eat, right? I think some of it has to do with the age, some of that has to do with positive guidance that you can give. I just think it's really, you know, shady, basically, for a parent to come in and say hey, how about this Switch Witch thing, you know. And it's you're right, you're right to choose what you want to do. But if you're coming in thinking that it's a way to reduce their sugar and reduce their candy, something something cavities, because you brush your teeth to prevent cavities. That's a 365 day a year agreement. Not you know, you can't tell me that that's not a sugar, candy, food fear. You're wanting to control things more. So oh, if I just tell them a story and take it away then maybe they'll go along with it. Alright, now your turn.
Bernie Salazar 13:29
Yeah. There's just so many different things to think about really when you start unpacking this, right. And that's why I think I started with, hey, the story was cute in the way that it was told. But from there, I mean, obviously, I guess for me after reading the backstory, it was like, hey, this is an alternative. An interactive alternative, maybe a little bit of a family tradition for those that are dealing with diabetes, right? That was my thought. But as with everything, you know, no good deed goes unpunished, right? And then you'll have those parents or friends, family friends, or even grandparents that will say, hey, did you think about this, it's a great way to do that because Little Billy is busting out at the seams and he could probably use a good switcheroo at Halloween, you know. Because I have those family members who I love but I just don't really hang out with much that are like, oh, you know, it might be a good idea for you not to get into this sort of don't let your kids get into this because of this, this and this. So, you know, I'm vehemently opposed to something like this being used to perpetuate like a diet culture or to potentially, you know, harm our children long term in their relationships with food or candy. I mean, you know, I firsthand know what that's like. Now that being said, it's definitely something, and I appreciate you saying that whole, you know, what you do in your home is up to you. But I do think that there are, again, being a person who has lived and survived the craziness that's associated with, you know, really horrible relationship with food, I could see how this would have definitely contributed to those issues that I had already experienced. So I know in my family, you know, Becca, I don't know if we've ever fully talked about this, I know I haven't talked about on the podcast, but I could give you a tour right now of my kitchen. And I have wonderful snacks. So when I say snacks, I mean, I'm just talking about a plethora of snacks that are at level for my kids, you open the fridge they have whatever it is that they want, or that they're into accessible to them. And we have some wonderful sweets in my kitchen, like good stuff, but what I've noticed is, and I've never restricted, nor has my wife, if they're up to it, they go and grab something, they'll open it and to my surprise, and I'm gonna be super honest, I'm shocked. They just kind of eat as much as they want, and then they put it down. And then if they want to, they'll revisit it, or they won't. And I remember being their age. And I remember having a lot of adults in my life, say, Oh, you shouldn't eat that, oh, you should run more, or you should go play outside more right as their way of saying, your fat Bernie, go do something about it in their primitive way. I know that if I had access to some of the things that I just on a daily basis, or just made available to my children, I would have had a very guilt associated binge type behavior with those items at five, six, seven, eight. Why, because as I've shared in previous podcasts, and that was a very traumatic time in my life. I was being physically abused by stepparents, my mother didn't know of it. But there were just, there's certain ways that little children cope, and food, when available is one of them. So all that to say, you know, if this is something that is being used to really accommodate and to build a family tradition to those children who cannot partake, then that's their choice. And it could be an alternative. And this is just solely my opinion. But if it's being used in the opposite way, just again, speaking from someone who's been dealing with negative relationships with food and everything else and what I don't like is the way that it's being marketed on their actual website. Can I just say that? Because it is like, well, it's it says right here, it's like, oh, a healthy alternative. And to me, it's like, don't,
Rebecca Scritchfield 18:14
That's exactly. Your Halloween is unhealthy.
Bernie Salazar 18:18
Exactly. You know, at that point, it's like, witch, please. Like, if you're gonna market it that way. Witch, please. You know, so, and listen, as, and I know that you are aware of this too, as entrepreneurs and people that are trying to put things out in the world, you just gotta understand the responsibility that you have on a larger level than just trying to sell your product.
Rebecca Scritchfield 18:50
Yeah, and the thing of it is, we cannot control the world, but we can build tools and skills to deal with the world. You know, and just to kind of circle on type one diabetes, and I think we should talk about our personal lives and what we do and maybe kind of handle some more scenarios. But yeah, first of all when there's a diagnosis of type one diabetes, it is overwhelming, it is scary. There's a lot to learn about and very quickly. And just, so tons of validation and empathy for what something like that is like. And absolutely, for health, for well-being, for physical and mental health, for body functions, when you have type one diabetes, you know, adjustments, there's medications, there's adjustments to eating pattern, movement, there's a lot of changes. And I'm sure in terms of thinking about how do we keep Halloween enjoyable and joyful for a child with type one diabetes. And the bottom line is, regardless of where it came from the Switch Witch is not necessary for parents of kids with type one diabetes, and we know, like you said the way it's marketing, right? And the way that there's lots of examples of the way it's being used, that it's more about controlling the environment. And I think parents miss an opportunity to talk to your kids, ask your kids questions, help them think critically about the world and options and assure they're calm, flexible, and trusting comfort of their body, their intuition and pleasure. With food pleasure is the measure. And so there's so many important skills that we could be teaching our kids, including moderation type conversations. And again, we don't need the Switch Witch for that, but I'm curious what you do in your home.
Bernie Salazar 21:06
Oh, my gosh, I don't even have one of those. To be honest, my thing is like, can I get these kids dressed? Can I keep them in Chicago? Can I keep them somewhat warm? And then can I not have them want to walk the entirety of Chicago to collect every last bit of candy? Just because I'd like to get back home and see what they have in their bag, right? So no, honestly, my big thing has always been, hey, let's get you in a costume that you're excited about wearing. If there's some friends we can meet up with, that makes it that much more fun. And then let's drive to the neighborhoods that give out the full size candy bars.
Rebecca Scritchfield 21:49
Yes, let's plan a strategy. Then they come home and what are they like? I'm sure when they're collecting candy, they get excited about it.
Bernie Salazar 21:57
Yeah, we empty it out on the floor, and they literally, you know, we do check it just because we're like, okay, you know, there's,
Rebecca Scritchfield 22:06
We grew up in the razor blade days.
Bernie Salazar 22:07
We grew up in the razor blade days, right.
Rebecca Scritchfield 22:09
I'm from Ohio man. Trust no one with that Halloween candy.
Bernie Salazar 22:12
Yes. So we check it, we get rid of anything that's open, they know that or anything that's not individually wrapped. And they get to pick out what I don't know. Like, every year is different. It's almost a set amount like 5-10 pieces and I have not talked about the full size candy bars. But at the same time, there is no real.
Rebecca Scritchfield 22:38
You don't have to control. Basically, you don't have to control things. Yeah.
Bernie Salazar 22:42
But I do tell them hey, listen, if you're choosing the king size KitKat that's it for tonight, just because you have school tomorrow, we want to make sure that you're well rested. And I know my kids, and certain snacks, especially those with red dye 40, which we get rid of do have an effect on the sleep patterns of my children.
Rebecca Scritchfield 22:42
And for you the red dye thing you found like a food intolerance or something medically,
Bernie Salazar 22:57
It's so sad, my little guy will have night terrors and shake.
Rebecca Scritchfield 23:14
Yeah, so I just wanted to clarify that because that's like a you know, a food.
Bernie Salazar 23:20
Yes, correct. And of course with Bennett, she has an allergy to oats. But to answer your question just directly, no, there's no limit. There's no give it to me. The only thing that I've thought about doing which I've never done, but I might this year just because it's funny is the Kimmel challenge. Only because, you know.
Rebecca Scritchfield 23:42
Just to see how they react?
Bernie Salazar 23:43
Yeah, and for those that aren't aware of it. It's like oh, you know, you wake your child up the next day with their empty trick or treat sack and you say, Oh, Daddy, or Mommy ate all your candy and you just kind of see them do it. I wouldn't do it when Bennett was younger, just because I don't have the heart but now she's like, going to be seven and I think it could be really fun.
Rebecca Scritchfield 24:05
I feel like that happens every week in our house though, like, what happened to all the Nerds Gummies? Mommy ate them. And I'm always saying we can go out to the store and get more. But yeah, I know some of those can be funny. I guess I would say if you, like me if you know your child has like anxiety or might not like it, take it a little slow. Maybe don't pull a prank on them.
Bernie Salazar 24:29
Bennett, so we play a lot of jokes in the house and she would say, Dad, I know you're joking. And if you're not joking, we need to go to the store now and pick some stuff out. It's just the sense of humor we have. But yeah, no, and I'm glad you brought that up. Yes, I know my children. I wouldn't do that with the young one.
Rebecca Scritchfield 24:52
So, we've already purchased the Halloween candy that we're going to give out. I dress up every year. I'm rum tum tugger from the Cats musical, which, you know, you can laugh me if you want, but I dress up as a cat. I light candles, I have to set up a table because we're that corner house that like some people give up on you know. So I'm like, hey it's tricker treaters. I'm playing Thriller, loud music you know, I love it right?
And then, it's interesting when kids go around in the neighborhood, there's older kids and younger kids, and we kind of have fun, right? When we don't, it's just like, they come back, they definitely want to dump it all out. Naturally, I feel like they start eating pieces that they know that they like, and they will sort. Oh, I know I don't like these. they'll sort, they'll trade. I have never had to pick a specific number. But if I'm starting to see piles of wrappers or I know they've been doing something for like a half an hour, just something that you know, I might look at the time to your point. Hey, bedtime soon, don't forget, we need to brush. Hey, this is so exciting, don't forget we're going to be enjoying this candy for a while.
But there are little like reminder nudges that validates this positive experience and guides them to like the next reasonable, logical self-care choice that needs to happen. And, I would venture to guess that if there are people that their child is very powerfully emoting or shouting or just emotionally distressed at a gentle nudge, something else is going on, and their emotion regulation or maybe they're over controlled. And it's like, oh my god, it's the one day of the year I get to binge eat candy, you know, like that kind of a feeling, be curious that maybe there's more going on if these sort of flexible, gentle nudges don't necessarily work.
Bernie Salazar 26:57
I've noticed that my kids just lose interest in the candy really after that night. And again,
Rebecca Scritchfield 27:03
Mine are interested in more than one day.
Bernie Salazar 27:07
She might ask the day after, or maybe two after the max. But, it's just never a big deal.
Rebecca Scritchfield 27:15
Yeah, sometimes, I'll hear from the kids school like, hey, it would be great if they did not bring in more than one piece of candy to school.
Bernie Salazar 27:23
Her school won't even, they don't bring anything. There's no snacks. Because to your point, there might be kids with allergies, or some kids that don't celebrate or some kids with diabetes. So they just don't allow anything in the schools.
Rebecca Scritchfield 27:38
And again, you want to help your kid make sense of things. One of the things that we do, and again, I'm not trying to control anything, but we do a lot of celebrating and baking through the fall and winter. We make holiday cookies and special breads. So after they do trading this and that, you know, it actually was the kids idea. Oh, I would love some of these M&M's to decorate cakes and cupcakes with. So we'll talk about like first week it's kind of like a couple pieces a day and one's run to ballet, the other one's running to gymnastics and so it's just there. Their candy is out. They don't hide in their bedroom, they don't sneak anything. It's there and it's minimal, kind of maybe has a week of allure. And then I'll kind of start to say hey you know we're getting closer and closer to Thanksgiving doing more baking and then around that, maybe by I don't know the 10th of November or something they've already lost a lot of interest, the consumption you know is, they might miss days by that point. But then we'll kind of look to what might we freeze.
Bernie Salazar 28:43
Or, they've eaten all their favorites.
Rebecca Scritchfield 28:44
Eaten their favorites, they've given away, who knows what. But at any rate, there's plenty of ways.
Bernie Salazar 28:50
My father will come around after Halloween and just take a lot of it and it's just kind of a tradition.
Rebecca Scritchfield 28:59
What are we going to call him, the Switch Grandpa?
Bernie Salazar 28:59
Yeah, the Switch Pa. I like that. What does he leave? He leaves wrappers, that's what he leaves. Grandpa's definitely not replacing it with anything he's like wait, this is just the toll for me being a grandpa.
Rebecca Scritchfield 29:17
But does it fuel his broom or what?
Bernie Salazar 29:20
Well, I'm sure it does. But again, you know this is something Rebecca where you know, being a parent and knowing that we have a lot of listeners out there who are parents, or no children or have children in their lives. Each kid, now having my son, they're so different. So I don't know what Gideon is going to be like as he gets older with candy. I know that right now he enjoys a couple pieces here and there. But he kind of seems to share in the same vibe as Bennett when it comes to candy. It's like, it's been accessible. It's not a big deal for them. So I don't think that they gorged the way that I used to as a kid. I would literally, you know, I remember staying up and wait until my brother fell asleep and seeing what was in his bag and putting it in mine. I mean, it was just crazy.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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