Easter is a time to celebrate, it comes with a whole host of opportunities for kids to indulge in Easter eggs, showbags full of questionable lollies and hot cross buns. So how should we handle these occasions so our children learn to as well? Karina Savage explains.
For many of us, Easter is a special time when family and friends get together, often sharing traditional foods that remind us of loved ones- like the Easter bread that I used to make with my Nonna! This year, I can’t wait to spend Good Friday re-creating my Nonna’s magical Easter bread with my own children.
And it’s not only Easter bread that is part of this season, but chocolate eggs, hot cross buns and more. So what do we do about all the yummy foods around at this time– are these OK?
In short, I say yes! Easter is not an every day event. It’s likely that kids will eat more chocolate and sweet foods than usual over Easter, but I don’t actually have a problem with it – as long as it ends on Easter Monday!
If we look at the big picture, it’s the food that children are eating day in day out, week in, week out during the school term that makes much more of an impact on their health and attitude toward healthy eating.
I believe it is our role as parents to teach children all foods are accessible (including junk food). The magic is in developing our children’s ability to balance their intake of foods in a positive way. Through positive role modelling and consistently showing up with yummy healthy food, our ultimate goal is for them to develop a taste and preference for wholesome foods (just as much as junk).
If we restrict kids eating too much, it may backfire and prevent them being able to develop balanced habits. Children with have super strict parents (ones who deny their kids any sweets or treats), are prone to sneaking forbidden foods when tey get their hands on them, or bingeing on treats and ‘the forbidden fruit’ foods .
We need to be talking about foods as “everyday foods” and “sometimes foods” to promote balanced eating.
Having said all of this, we as parents can still moderate sugar intake over Easter.
Here’s how to manage the chocolate intake:
- Choose smaller size eggs and preferably the hollow type (vs the caramel cream inside)
- Think about other options for Easter gifts and treats as well a bit of chocolate – think outside the chocolate square – so food is not the whole focus of the fun
- Talk the kids about paying more attention to what they are eating and trying to savour each mouthful. This also applies to adults – eat slowly and savour each mouthful so you can be content with a smaller amount.
- Soon after the Easter hunt or exchange of eggs, once everyone has had a chance to eat some, put the chocolate away – top shelf out of reach. With young children especially, it’s often a case of out of sight, out of mind.
- Chocolate should not be stored in the kids’ rooms. Be clear about boundaries around when they can eat it.
- Give them a quality breakfast, so they fill up on good stuff and will be less likely to gorge on snacks
- Re- gift some of the excess chocolate so it is not sitting in your cupboards.
- Easter is also a great opportunity for activity. Try to encourage your children to be as active, whilst making it fun. This might mean family walks, games of soccer in the park, family basketball, beach cricket or even home-made obstacle courses in the backyard over the break and long weekend.
Do’s and dont’s for a healthy and happy Easter break:
- Allow kids to enjoy chocolate over Easter (in moderation)
- Eat chocolate slowly, savouring each mouthful
- Put left over chocolate out of sight – kitchen cupboards (not in bedrooms)
- Encourage a healthy breakfast to start the day
- Stay active – doing something active every day over Easter
- Only buy what you really need. Give excess chocolate away!
- Keep left over chocolate on the counter within easy reach.
- Let kids take their chocolate into their rooms
- Go out on an empty stomach as you are all more likely to overindulge on junk
- Over-restrict kids – this will eventually backfire on you
- Feel guilty, you are all allowed to enjoy some chocolate