Easteris coming up soon. The holiday has become associated commercially with the Easter Bunny and Easter candy for children. Yet more and more, as Americans become more health conscious they are seeking different treats to give their children on Easter, or candy that isn’t totally unhealthy.
I had a chance to interview Dr. Keith Kantor, a leading nutritionist and and CEO of the Nutritional Addiction Mitigation Eating & Drinking (NAMED) program, to get some healthy options.
Why are sweets such an easy Easter basket filler?
Easter, except for Halloween, is the biggest holiday of the year for candy. That can be a bad thing -- especially since Easter-themed events may stretch out over a week or more with between school parties, neighborhood hunts and family gatherings..
Overconsumption of sugar by kids can lead to moodiness and hyperactivity -- a sugar high can even be misdiagnosed as ADHD.
Regular consumption of processed sugar ties in with a growing problem of obesity, leading to diabetes, among Americans. A child who is overweight is three times more likely to be an overweight adult. It's been estimated that 40 percent of the U.S. population will either be diabetic or pre-diabetic by 2020. We have to start with the young people to address this growing epidemic. Instead of forbidding candy, practice moderation, this is a great way to teach self and portion control.
When there is a lot of candy around encourage your kids to drink water and stay hydrated, which is important for many reasons but it will also fill them up and make them less hungry. The general rule of thumb is that, whatever your body weight in pounds, you should drink half that number of ounces of water each day. For example, a 60-pound child should drink 30 ounces of water. Sugar is acidic which leads to inflammation, try drinking hydroxide alkaline water(which naturally eliminates the acids) to reduce the inflammation it causes in the body. The best I found through my research is AQUA OH-!, and since it is a concentrate it is 250%+ less expensive than other alkaline waters and works better.
What are some healthier options?
Easter should be a fun and celebratory time, but it doesn't have to be all about chocolate. Kids, believe it or not, don't care about just the candy, they care about getting something. An Easter basket can be filled with inexpensive toys -- plastic jewelry, temporary tattoos, a jump rope, and bubbles solution, stickers. Cut up fruit with tooth picks in them and small boxes of raisins and healthier options which kids seem to enjoy.
If your children get a lot of candy from an egg hunt or party let them indulge a little and then offer to trade the rest of the candy from them in exchange for a trip to the movies, park or toy store.
Easter should be a fun time, it's healthier to emphasize the religious aspects of the holiday over the commercial ones. The stores made it all about candy, but parents do not have to give into this. By spending time with your children during the holiday weekend, playing with them, you're also burning some calories from whatever candy they (and you!) do end up eating.
If parents still want to include sweets, what are some better choices?
Think quality vs. quantity, invest in higher quality candy made without dyes, or processed syrups, in smaller quantities, the candy is there just not a ton of it and it tastes great.
Annie's Organic products, which can be found in some grocery stores, offers colorful organic fruit snacks that can be substituted for jellybeans or gummy candies.
Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups, which can also be found in milk and dark chocolate and almond butter varieties.
Green and Black’s organic chocolate eggs, can also be found at the grocery store.
Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans made with organic juice, dye free non- GMO and gluten free, can be found online or at specialty grocery stores.