Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Candy Overload: Healthy Celebration Tips

A walk down the Easter candy aisle this week offers a host of selections from fifteen types of jelly beans to peanut butter eggs and bunnies the size of our children themselves. A survey conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination shows that kids consume an average of 350 calories from added sugar each day – more than triple the recommended amount – and during holidays it can be even more! Why does it matter? Added sugar is a major contributor to childhood obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes down the road. Luckily, managing sugar during holiday weekends is easier than you think. 

These tips are helpful for Easter and any holiday where sugar tends to take center stage.

Follow the 80/20 Rule 
Classroom parties, cookie-toting grandparents, and other obstacles to health are inevitable, but we don’t have to completely let go and give up all hope of managing them. Make sure that the meals you eat at home (and pack for school) are super-nutritious to compensate for those occasions when we eat less-than-healthy fare. That means getting our sweet fix from fresh fruit instead of fruit snacks, ordering out less and cooking at home more, and drinking more water and no sweetened beverages.

Skip the Juice Entirely 
Just toss out the juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics has determined that juice is not necessary in anyone’s diet and even compares it to drinking soda. Juice contains virtually no fiber and is simply liquid calories. Instead, make water fun by adding sliced fruit to it or freezing berries into ice cubes for fun and flavor!

Make Homemade Treats Instead of Candy
Baking cookies is often a time-honored tradition for many families, pulling out Great-Grandma’s recipe and then, of course, eating the fruits of the labor! Update those recipes by substituting whole-wheat flour for white, slashing the sugar, and making only half of the recipe and smaller portions. In many cases, you can reduce the sugar by half and not notice a dramatic change in flavor, and having fewer of them will help decrease the number that get eaten.

Set the Example and the Expectation. 
Children are just like us when it comes to something we can’t have: they just want it more! As they see their friends eating sugary snacks or fall victim to marketing messages created to encourage children to ask for junk food, the grumbling will surely begin.  Be firm in your decision to stock the house with healthy foods, but sit down to learn about food with your children. Educate yourself and your family about food, sugar, what’s good and bad to eat, and why. Give them choices – a dessert tonight or at this weekend’s party but not both – and let them set boundaries for themselves. Then, of course, set the example by modeling healthy habits at home!

There are so many delicious treats surrounding us during special holidays, and it is surely difficult to resist them. But, keeping your eye on the prize - a healthy body and a healthy family – can make it seem less like work and more like a gift. Set limits, make some healthy swaps, and reduce sugar where you can to ensure that the only sweets in your holiday are those happy, healthy kids! 
Click here healthy Easter basket ideas, and be sure to log in to to track your healthy habits all weekend long!

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