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Easter Candy and Your Health
Easter is the second biggest candy holiday in the United States.* According to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), over 120 million pounds of Easter candy is purchased each year. This includes 16 billion jelly beans, 90 million chocolate bunnies, and an untold number of marshmallow peeps.
That’s a lot of sugar!
Moreover, according to research from the NCA, 87% of parents will make Easter baskets for their children this year. It's also interesting to note that 81% of these parents will then steal candy from their children's baskets.
So, what are parents usually putting in Easter baskets?
89% say Easter candy and chocolate
79% include non-edible items like crayons, stuffed animals, books, and movie passes
46% add candy with “added benefits” like dark chocolate or chocolate with added fruits and nuts
44% fill the baskets with what they call “heathier snacks” such as granola bars or dried fruit
35% include gums and mints
How about you and your clients? How do you fill the baskets?
That stash of Easter candy can easily put everyone in the family over their recommended sugar intakes for the day. Remember, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans assert that people should "Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars."
Perhaps it's time to think outside the jelly bean.
A full 11% of the families surveyed by the NCA didn’t add any candy to their baskets, so I’m not being unrealistic when I say it can be done. Although candy is part of Easter traditions, consider at least limiting the amount and types of candy you put in the basket. I do like the idea of chocolate with “added benefits” like nuts. Other healthful food ideas include some 100-calorie snack packs, nuts, dried fruits, little boxes of raisins, and trail mix.
There are lots of suggestions online for non-edible items like marking pens, money, stickers, and toys. Our own Chef Judy has some great ideas for non-candy items that could also promote physical activity and healthful eating. How about replacing at least some of those jelly beans or marshmallow peeps with:
Noodles for the pool
Bubble supplies with big wands
Colorful athletic shoes
Activity passes for fun things to do in the area
Family board games
Pool towels and swim goggles
A healthful cookbook
Cooking equipment for foodie kids
A new reusable water bottle
Anything that gets the kids and family outside and moving or interacting together makes a great stuffer for an Easter basket, and they’ll last longer than candy too!
So, what will you be putting in your baskets this year?
By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University
* Halloween is the first.
And here are some other fun prizes that you can put into Easter baskets...