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Easter is a time when chocolate and sweet treats are in abundance, and managing the overload of sugar can be challenging, especially with young children. Here are some tips for managing the chocolate and sugar highs that come with Easter:
1. Let children trust their appetite: It's essential to allow your children to listen to their bodies and trust their appetite. Instead of forcing them to eat all their Easter treats at once or pushing them to finish their meals when they're full, encourage them to eat when they're hungry and stop when they're full. This helps them to develop a healthy relationship with food and avoid overeating or under-eating. Offer a variety of healthy options and allow your children to choose what they want to eat, giving them a sense of control over their own appetite.
On Easter Sunday, when the Easter bunny has been and excitement levels are high, it might be hard to watch your child appear to inhale chocolate but remember it is one “special day” and they should enjoy it, for what it is.
2. Offer alternatives: Easter doesn't have to be all about chocolate and sweets. Offer healthier alternatives such as fresh fruit, yogurt, or homemade trail mix. You could even create a fun Easter-themed fruit salad or skewers and use cookie cutters to cut out different Easter-themed shapes! Also consider making your own healthier versions of favourite Easter treats using natural sweeteners such as sweet vegetable and fruit purees. This can help to satisfy your children's sweet tooth while also reducing their overall sugar intake and providing them with nutritious options.
3. Consider Easter activities which don’t involve food such as colouring in and craft activities centred around the bunny and his adventures.
4. Set a good example: Children learn by example, so make sure that you're setting a good example when it comes to healthy eating. Avoid snacking on chocolate and sweets throughout the day and make sure that you're offering healthy, balanced meals and snacks.
By letting your children trust their appetite, offering nourishing alternatives, being creative with how you serve chocolate and sweets, and setting a good example, you can help to manage the chocolate and sugar overload at Easter with young children. This ensures that your children can enjoy a happy and healthy Easter without compromising on their health.
I took the opportunity to ask two nutritionist mums how they manage the chocolate at Easter! This is what they had to say:
Abby McLennan, Nutritionist (Masters of Human Nutrition), Mummy to Ollie 4 and Hugo 2:
"I’m a huge advocate for sharing the excitement of searching for Easter eggs with my children. My approach to chocolate at Easter is knowing that it’s not an everyday event and is truly part of fun childhood memories. For our family, my kids have an opportunity to eat the chocolate once the egg hunt is over. I don’t restrict them with how much chocolate they eat and instead trust them to regulate their own appetites. I use this approach to all foods already and so chocolate isn’t a special thing. Once the egg hunt is over and they’ve had what they want to eat, we pile all the chocolate into a container and then serve a small amount of the chocolate with a meal every second day until the chocolate is gone. It usually takes about two weeks before the chocolate is finished, but serving the chocolate alongside a meal or snack demonstrates that there’s nothing special about it and is simply part of what we eat and enjoy. I also avoid giving chocolate a special name such as a “treat” and simply call it what it is….chocolate. By calling chocolate what it is, the special status gets removed while supporting a healthy relationship with all food."
Abby is a practising nutritionist and runs Mum Bub Nutrition and can be found on IG @mum_bub_nutrition
Jaime Rose Chambers, Nutritionist and Accredited Practising Dietitian, Mum to Billy and Luis:
“After Easter, there’s always an overload of chocolate in our house. I have a strategy I use every year that works for us and that is to choose a day after Easter - whether it be 1 or 2 days after to do a clear out. I like to separate out the good quality chocolate and put it into a container which we then enjoy slowly slowly over a few weeks or months. Then the excess chocolate I like to get out of the house but avoid waste so I’ll cook with it and break it all up and make a Rocky road or chocolate bark and bring it along to a BBQ or gathering so everyone can enjoy”.
Jaime is a clinical practising nutritionist, dietitian, cook & author and can be found on IG @jaimerose_nutrition or visit her website.