A happy Easter often comes with a hyper house full of little ones. Candy is tempting kids and parents, alike, in the grocery store, in the classroom, on co-workers’ desks and nearly everywhere you look. The average child already consumes about 32 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is staggering in itself. But between the festive gift baskets and egg hunts during Easter weekend, the “average” amount will be just a drop in the bucket.
While you could argue that letting kids go to town on candy is harmless enough, because it’s a holiday – a rare occasion. However, sugar binges are never a healthy idea. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF's Benioff Children's Hospital, there’s no question that sugar induces tolerance. The more you eat, the more you need to get the same deep, visceral reward response that says 'things are good.' This is how sugar cravings are born.
So how can you make sure the sugar rush doesn’t spiral out of control?
- Stay active.
It’s going to be a full day of activity, but most of it will be spent sitting – in church, at brunch or on the couch at your in-laws’ house. Instead of letting the day slip away, start off early with a family hike, a trip to the playground or even a long walk around the neighborhood. Statistics show a family that exercises together stays healthier together!
2. Hunt for more than candy.
Who said the bright-colored, plastic eggs have to be filled with chewy candy, animal-shaped marshmallows and cream-filled chocolates? A smart alternative is to turn the treasure hunt into a quest for educational toys, such as clay or art supplies. Designing a situation to keep their little brains stimulated with creative play rather than sugar is a win-win. The kiddos will be busy and learning something new, while the adults spend time catching up and connecting.
3. Get all hands in the kitchen.
Plan a healthier version of the traditional Easter meal (check out my pork tenderloin recipe), and then call on the kids to pitch in where they can. When little ones help prepare the food, it makes them feel more invested and more willing to actually eat what’s in front of them. Studies show that getting kids involved in the cooking process has a positive influence on their food choices and eating habits.
4. Choose the healthiest treat at the right time.
These days, it’s quite simple to find lower-in-sugar, allergen-free versions of many sugary indulgences. The trick is not being fooled to think this makes them a good option for an everyday snack! Given that Easter is a holiday and technically qualifies as a special occasion, today would be the time to go for the gluten-free, no-dairy cookie or vegan, whole-food-based cupcake. However, make sure to give the kids (or yourself) the sweet stuff after having a balanced meal with enough veggies, protein and healthy fat to lower the glycemic load of the treat.
5. Lead by example.
Finally, don’t forget that whatever environment you create for the kids and your family on this special day will feel normal for them, because you made it that way. If Mom and Dad make it a point to be active every day and enjoy healthy eating, the kids will follow suit, just as they would in an unhealthy scenario.
Demonstrating balance, not just during holidays, but all year round is the biggest gift you can give your little ones in order to set them up for a healthy lifestyle that comes so naturally they won’t think twice about it. Happy, healthy Easter!
 "The Science behind Why Kids (and Some Adults) Crave Halloween Candy." Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal, 30 Oct. 2013. Web
 "Why Your Family and Friends Are as Important for Health as Diet and Exercise." HealthNews.com. N.p., 8 Jan. 2016. Web
 Kramer, Alex. "Teaching Kids to Cook May Make Them Eat Healthier." CBS News. CBS News, 14 Nov. 2014. Web