For many families, Easter can spell a dietary disaster. Easter baskets, in particular, can pose a serious threat to healthy eating habits. Many of the most popular treats, from jelly beans to peeps to chocolate eggs and bunnies, are full of sugar. After weeks of denial, these sweet treats can tempt even the healthiest eaters, young and old, sometimes to disastrous effect.
Sugars, and fats, consumed on Easter and in the days following can add unwanted weight to both children and adults. Sugars can have a detrimental effect on teeth and behavior, especially among children. It’s vital that children, and adults, brush their teeth frequently and thoroughly after consuming Easter candy. Parents may want to supervise brushing to ensure children are brushing their whole mouth properly (7-8 seconds per tooth is recommended). Too much sugar can also cause children to behave aggressively, have difficulty focusing or become hyperactive then crash as the sugars leave their system. Adults may experience similar mood swings but with less intensity, primarily because they know how to exert more self-control. For adults, the fats found in Easter treats such as premium chocolates present a more significant problem especially since adults living with children already consume more fats than adults living alone or solely with other adults.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include sweets in your Easter baskets. Just don’t make them the focus. There are other kinds of treats that kids and adults will enjoy just as much, maybe more. The key is moderation.
So what kind of treats can you put in an Easter basket instead of candy? There are several options, including:
• Coloring books
• Seeds or young plants
• Handwritten family recipes or stories
• Garden tools
• Crayons, markers or colored pencils
• Cut flowers (a bouquet of daisies children can turn into daisy chains or flower crowns with guidance from an adult, or older child is a great idea)
• Colored or Decorated Eggs
• Family Photos of other Easter Celebrations
• Stickers or stamps with Easter themes
• Easter hats (sun hats or baseball caps work too)
Some adults may be tempted to include a baby bunny, lamb or chicks in Easter baskets as well. Bear in mind that baby bunnies grow into adult rabbits, lambs turn into sheep and chicks become hens and roosters. Be sure the recipient, and their household, is prepared and capable of taking care of all live animals. When in doubt, don’t give pets. Not every house, or family, is ready or willing to take on the responsibility. Every year animal welfare agencies report a spike in the number of bunnies and chicks surrendered immediately after Easter.
Easter baskets are a favorite and joyful way to celebrate the season. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or overindulge everyone’s sweet-tooth to keep the tradition alive. Exercise moderation and remember that time spent together, as a family and a community, are the real treasures of the season. Enjoy them to the fullest.