As holidays have evolved from religious occasions to heavily-commercialized opportunities for excessive consumption, they contribute to rising rates of childhood obesity, not so much by serving as perennial pig-outs for kids (think Halloween bags, Christmas stockings and Easter baskets) but rather by cementing the association in their young minds between celebration and stuffing themselves silly with sugar-loaded, fat-laden, high-calorie foods.
Maybe these once-in-a-while indulgences won’t matter so much when they’re young and their furnace-like little metabolisms can make quick work of the typical 2,000-calorie Easter basket and its 100 grams of fat. But when those marshmallow bunnies and cream-filled candy eggs are but a faint, fond memory, the childhood-formed habit of marking special occasions by making pigs of themselves may encumber their adult efforts to maintain a healthy weight.
Spring is a wonderful time to turn over new leaves — so why not start a new tradition by making this Easter a healthy one? Here are some ideas.
Try substituting healthy treats: The idea isn’t to banish all candy — making it into the forbidden fruit may only set kids up to eat more of it later.Rather, try a balance of healthier candies (such as dark chocolate instead of milk, or pastel candy-coated almonds instead of jelly beans) along with fruit and veggie snacks.
Easter can be a great time to introduce your children to bright-colored exotic fruits that fit right in their baskets like kumquats, star fruit, egg-shaped kiwis and those super-cute doll-sized pears.Add a mini-pack of carrots and a DOLE® fruit bowl.Or buy hollow plastic eggs that can be filled with healthy munchies like peanuts and raisins.
Incorporate more nonfood treats: What little bunny wouldn’t love to wake up to a basket filled with scratch-and-sniff stickers, stuffed animals, floppy-eared slippers, a Yoga Kids video, jump rope, crayons, lip gloss or gardening seeds?
Here’s a fabulous site with non-candy basket fillers such as Easter bunny bubble bottles, spring whimsy kaleidoscopes and plastic duck whistles.
Celebrate with activity: Easter — or Passover — provides a perfect opportunity to make healthful, outdoor family fun a big part of what makes holidays “happy.” Prepare an Easter “treasure” hunt that includes some of the prizes and nutritious items listed above.Go for a long family bike ride, hike or field trip to pick strawberries.Introduce your children to a real, live Peter Cottontail by taking them to a petting zoo.Fun, activity-filled holidays will help raise healthy grandkids too: When your own children grow up they’ll be likely to repeat traditions that bring back warm memories.
Every year a new theme: Just because it’s Easter doesn’t mean you’ve got to go with the same old, tired pastel bunny-and-eggs routine.Why not surprise the little chick in your life with a new theme basket each year.For toddlers try an alphabet basket or nursery rhyme basket.For little green thumbs give a gardening basket complete with kid-sized gloves and small hand tools.Or how about a healthy cooking basket made from your own hand-picked ingredients, like a child-sized apron and chef’s hat, plus Easter-ish cookbooks, like this Totally Carrots Cookbook..