Easter Can Be Sweet Without the Sugar!

By Tamsin Thoren, Hines VA
Dietetic Intern

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, children between the ages of 2 and 5 eat approximately 40 pounds of sugar every year.[i] That’s equal to 10 bags of sugar, or to put it another way, roughly their own body weight! That amounts to about 200 Calories every day that don’t provide any vitamins, minerals, or fiber. All of those extra calories are harming our kids!

Check out this video from the Change4Life from Public Health England for another perspective.

Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, one of the main sources of added sugars in kids’ diets, has been linked with weight gain.[ii] Excessive weight gain can contribute to numerous health issues in children, including type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and fatty liver disease.[iii] It can also lead to social consequences, isolation, and subsequent mental health conditions. iii Our kids deserve better! Let’s make a pact to ditch the sweet stuff to add sweetness to their lives.

You probably try to limit your children’s consumption of sugary treats on a day-to-day basis, but holidays that focus on sugary treats can throw your efforts out the window. So how can you and your children celebrate while still following
healthy eating habits? Try these tips to build a healthier Easter basket and healthier habits!

Instead of loading your children’s Easter baskets with sugar-laden empty calories, make a basket that the Easter Bunny would be excited about! You can use fruits, veggies, nuts, and other healthy snacks and arrange them creatively.

Small toys, games, books, and craft items make great “treats” that will keep your children busy and can replace some of the candy in an Easter basket. If your child has a favorite activity—like coloring, gardening, or baking—you can build a basket around that theme. For an added bonus try including toys like jump ropes or a Velcro catch set that will get your kids outside and moving.

A little bit of candy on special occasions is okay and can give you the opportunity to talk to your children about healthy everyday eating versus special occasion treats that need to be consumed in moderation. You can even make a game out of seeing how long they can make the candy last to help them learn the important skill of delayed gratification.

For a healthy Easter snack, try this holiday spin on one of my standby snacks.


Easter Bunny’s Garden 

(Borrowed from http://www.tasteandtellblog.com/carrot-patches/)

Ingredients

  • 2 C hummus
  • 32 oz. baby carrots
  • 1 bunch curly parsley
  • 4 small terra cotta pots

Instructions

  • Portion ½ C hummus into 4 small dishes that fit inside the pots.
  • Use a toothpick to make a hole in the end of each baby carrot and insert a small sprig of parsley.
  • Arrange the carrots in the hummus to look like tiny garden plots.
  • Extra carrots can be placed on a tray surrounding the pots.

These same hints can be used at Halloween, birthday parties, or any other occasion where sugary snacks can be a focus. Try it out and let us know how it goes! If you have any other tips that you use to decrease the amount of sugary snacks at special occasions let us know in the comments.

Sources

  • [i] Ervin RB, Kit BK, Carroll MD, Ogden CL. Consumption of added sugar among U.S. children and adolescents, 2005–2008. NCHS data brief no 87. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db87.htm. Accessed February 25, 2016.
  • [ii] Vartanian LR, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Public Health 2007;97(4):667—675.
  • [iii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood obesity causes and consequences. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html. Updated June 19, 2015. Accessed February 25, 2016.

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