If there’s a time of year when you worry about your child’s diet, it’s Easter. Getting your kid to give up unhealthy treats is always hard. As Easter approaches, it can seem almost impossible.
How can you say “No!” when your child asks for the chocolate eggs and bunnies, jelly beans and marshmallow chicks that seem to appear everywhere you turn?
Believe it or not, your kid can have a fantastic Easter that’s healthy as well as happy. Here’s how:
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1. Use natural instead of artificial colors
Artificial colors contain toxic metals that can cause many health problems. You and your child can create beautiful Easter eggs and colorful treats using dyes made from natural ingredients. Here are some colors you can make naturally:
- Pink or Red – from beets, raspberries, pomegranates or cranberries (the more concentrated the ingredients, the darker the dye).
- Orange – from carrots. Use chili powder to create an orange-red shade.
- Yellow – from turmeric or saffron.
- Green – from spinach or parsley. You can also buy liquid chlorophyll in a health food store. Chlorophyll is what gives plant leaves and stems their green color.
- Blue – from blueberries or blackberries.
- Purple – Boil red cabbage and the water will turn purple. Adding baking soda at the end of the boiling process will turn the water blue.
- Brown – from cocoa or cinnamon.
2. Switch to dark chocolate
Instead of buying your kid the usual milk chocolate candies, why not create some tasty treats made with dark chocolate, which contains healthy antioxidants known as flavonoids. Dark chocolate is associated with low blood pressure, low cholesterol and a reduced risk of ischemic stroke.
Try this recipe for Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites from Primally Inspired.
3. Carob makes a great chocolate substitute
If dark chocolate is too bitter for your child’s taste, try carob instead. Carob contains antioxidants called polyphenols and may lower cholesterol levels. It contains pinitol, a substance that reduces blood glucose levels.
Try making these Sugar-Free Carob Almond Butter Cups from The Veggie Nook, instead of buying processed, toxin-filled peanut butter cups.
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4. Speaking of nuts
Mix almonds, cashews or walnuts with sulfite-free dried fruit and give your child a healthy snack to munch on over Easter. Nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. They may lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of a heart attack. In addition, their high protein content will keep your child from feeling hungry and overeating.
5. Reduce sugar
You don’t have to be told how much damage is being caused by the sugar-saturated American diet. Processed foods are full of sugar, and eating them increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and other health problems. Make your own treats that are low in sugar, or use a natural sweetener such as Truvia, made from the Stevia plant. Some studies suggest that Stevia extract may lower high blood pressure and lower blood glucose levels, but more research needs to be done.
6. Make your own fruit snacks
Store-bought fruit snacks are loaded with sugar, dyes and other unhealthy chemicals, and you don’t want your kid eating them during Easter or at any other time. That doesn’t mean all fruit snacks are taboo, though. Here’s a simple all-natural recipe from An Organic Wife that your child will love.
You can add vegetables as well as fruit to your kid’s Easter basket, by explaining that the Easter Bunny loves carrots.
7. Focus on fun, not food!
While genetics does play a role in determining how hungry we get and how easily we put on weight, overeating does have a strong psychological component. Teaching your child that they need to eat candy to have a good time can cause problems later in life. Why not focus on healthy, non-food-related Easter activities?
For example, help your child make Easter eggs out of play-doh, or fill plastic Easter eggs with charms or stickers that they can collect or trade with friends.
Coloring books, paints, games and puzzles are fantastic ways to keep your kid’s mind off candy, while helping them improve hand-eye coordination and develop logical and creative thinking skills.
Determination of Total Chiro-inositol Content in Selected Natural Materials and Evaluation of the Antihyperglycemic Effect of Pinitol Isolated from Soybean and Carob, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations
An Evidence-Based Systematic Review of Stevia by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration, Cardiovascular and Hematological Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
Insoluble carob fiber rich in polyphenols lowers total and LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic subjects, Plant Foods for Human Nutrition
Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health, Mayo Clinic