Friday, March 30, 2018

Healthy Habits: Alternatives to Easter Candy

Easter is just a few days away. After Halloween it is the second highest day for candy consumption. The stores are filled with Easter candy. Yet as Americans become more healthy, many are looking for alternatives to traditional Easter candy or candy that is better in terms of health. I had a chance to interview Dr. Keith Kantor, a leading nutritionist and CEO of the Nutritional Addiction Mitigation Eating and Drinking (NAMED) program. Dr. Kantor has a list of candies that are good and bad health wise, as well as, healthy alternatives to traditional Easter candy. 

Avoid mainstream candy options including:
·      Jellybeans
·      Milk chocolate
·      Marshmallow candy

Try these options and brands instead:
·      70% or more dark chocolate (typically found in the natural food section at your local grocery store).
·      Lake Champion chocolates- they have Easter Bunny options available online.
·      Sjaak’s offers vegan and almond butter options which is great for anyone who suffers from peanut allergies or intolerances, available online.
·      Annie’s organic fruits snacks – available at your local grocery store.
·      Surf Sweets offers organic jellybeans without artificial dyes or flavors, available online.
·      Make your own sweet Easter treats; there are several adapted recipes online that use whole unprocessed ingredients free of chemicals and dyes. 
·      Options that are not food can be sidewalk chalk, temporary tattoos, bubbles, or opt out of baskets all together and get a big item that they all can use like a basketball hoop, kayak, or trampoline. 

How can parents encourage well-meaning relatives to look for alternatives to sugary sweets?
Simply tell them that the kids get too much candy and if you want to get them something please opt for items that encourage activity or something they could use for the upcoming season like sunglasses, swim suits, beach towels, sidewalk chalk, or bubbles.  If they really want to do something unique, a pass to the local indoor play yard, zoo, museum or Movie Theater are also great options. 

If kids receive a lot of sugary snacks in their basket, how can parents manage consumption and/or disposal (especially if kids are old enough to know what they've received)?
There are several options, for those who still have little ones, parents can put the candy up and ration it out on the weekends or one small piece after they have consumed optimal servings of vegetables and fruits daily. 
For older kids opt for the educational route, candy does not help their energy, sports performance or skin.  Encourage them to practice moderation and to avoid eating out of boredom, this is a common thing among teens.     

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