Whether you celebrate Easter, sweet treat temptations are everywhere, from chocolate bunnies and candy-coated eggs to hot cross buns and all sorts of cakes. Parents are being cautioned to be vigilant of the sugar that their children consume. Especially given exceeding the daily recommended amount of sugar is dangerous for younger children later on in life. Here are my top 4 tips to help you limit sugar this Easter.
Easter eggs can be a fun treat for children, especially if combining them with a treasure hunt, which is a tradition this time of year. However, they are high in fat and sugar, which, when consumed in large amounts, can cause grogginess, tiredness, and a change in temperament.
In extreme cases, for little ones, too much sugar can also cause the body to not be able to process it. This can result in vomiting. Eating too much sugar can set the tone for unhealthy habits later in life.
Too much sugar creates long term problems
In the long-term, too much sugar increases the risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity, which is complicated and can lead to Type 2 diabetes. Both of these lifestyle diseases are 100% preventable. Furthermore, diabetes can occur in children from a very young age. Although far less common than adult-onset diabetes, when it does occur it has a major impact on the child and family.
Don’t blame exercise or lack thereof
It’s not a low rate of physical activity, but rather a poor diet, that can lead to obesity. Childhood obesity, coupled with the paradox of under-nutrition, has reached epidemic proportions in many countries around the world, and COVID-19 has only made it worse.
Obesity is a co-morbidity meaning that if your child is suffering from carrying excess weight, he or she is at increased risk of complications if diagnosed with the Coronavirus.
Kids are also experiencing anxiety and strange behavior due to COVID-19. Adding loads of sugar to the diet of a kid during Easter who is already suffering from anxiety may seem like a way to reduce stress and relax children. However, it may only actually serve to exacerbate anxiety or other behaviors due to the effect of too much sugar on the body,
My 4 top tips on how you can limit sugar this Easter
Tip #1 Start with a Healthy Breakfast
Start with a healthy breakfast every day during Easter weekend. Children must have breakfast before they start their day. This meal should consist of cereal, preferably high fiber as well as fruit, and some long-acting carbohydrates. An example is low GI bread. Parents should try to avoid sugary cereals. Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber.
Tip # 2. Pack a Snack Box
Pack a ‘snack box’ for your child for every day of the Easter weekend, and even for the duration of the school holidays. The lunch box should contain snacks that are wholesome. Dried fruit, nuts, yogurt, vegetable sticks like carrots and cucumber are great. Two slices of bread are usually enough. Try and limit the amount of high-fat content in the bread.
Keep the cheese and cold meats (polonies) to a minimum. Water is best and fruit juices and all sugary drinks should be limited. This will keep your child out of the “sweet” cupboard and will also keep them full. You can create a fun snack box every day with a surprise like a small toy or a note or a hand-drawn picture to keep your children excited to see what is in their box for the day.
Tip #3 Limit Meals Out
If you are taking a break and going on a holiday with your children, whether during Easter or for the school holidays, try to limit meals out and have lunch or dinner at home. A special focus on having a simple healthy meal at home will help to keep a good routine during the holidays. If you are keeping your children entertained throughout the holidays by planning fun activities, remember that they need energy from healthy sources for busy days. The meal should be balanced with not too much fat, but sugar. A healthy serving of vegetables is great.
Tip #4. Hunt for a Variety of Stuff, Not just Sugary Treats
Instead of a hunt for Easter eggs in the garden, you can do a treasure hunt for a variety of small and cost-effective toys, with only a small amount of treats. You can also use decorative hard-boiled eggs to add to the excitement of Easter. This is a special family tradition in many parts of the world and adds activity to Easter too.
Lead by example. This may be a chance for the whole family to make healthier choices and changes should be extended to the whole family. Neither should this be a temporary change but should become part of a lifestyle that can have positive effects on the whole family.
About the author
Dr. Iqbal Karbanee, is a pediatrician and pioneering CEO of Paed-IQ BabyLine, a trusted telephonic medical advice service for the first 1000 days of a child’s life, starting from conception to birth and beyond.
Paed-IQ BabyLine is a trusted, telephonic medical helpline for pregnant moms and new families. With healthcare advice given by qualified, experienced, and medically trained nurses. starting from conception to birth and beyond.