The season of eating chocolate, I mean Easter, is almost upon us. The Easter eggs have been in the shops since January - right beside the discounted selection boxes (does anyone actually buy Easter eggs in January?).
Since my kids came along, I’ve always had an issue with Easter eggs. Kind aunts and grannies have showered them with chocolate eggs over the years - we could end up with 15 - 20 eggs in the house in any one year. Since training as a Health Coach and setting up The Cool Food School, I’ve asked people to hold off on the chocolate at Easter and maybe buy the kids a book or t-shirt instead (thus consolidating my reputation as “meanest mammy in Ireland” with my kids!).
A new survey, conducted by the Irish Heart Foundation, shows that, on average, children get 4 Easter eggs each year which equates to a whopping 92 teaspoons of sugar. The WHO recommends that children have no more than 5 or 6 teaspoons of sugar in a day. To comply with this guideline, it should take children about 15 days to eat their 4 eggs - so long as they aren’t eating any other source of sugar (white bread, white rice, fizzy drinks, sugary cereals etc etc). but does this happen in real life?
What should we do about this if we don’t want our children to be eating massive amounts of sugar over the Easter break? Here’s some suggestions:
- Don’t buy as many eggs! I know it’s obvious but if you buy eggs for your sister’s kids and she buys for yours and then you get them from the neighbour so you buy her kids eggs as well, you’ll all end up with 20 eggs by the end of Easter Sunday (which is exactly what Cadburys and Nestle want!). Agree with relatives, friends, neighbours and grandparents in advance to buy either smaller eggs or none at all. It may not be a popular move but point out the sugar stats and they might think twice!
- If you want to give your sister’s kids and the neighbours kids something for Easter, consider colouring pencils, books, cinema tickets or hair clips etc. Add a small egg such as a creme egg or caramel egg if you can’t avoid the chocolate! Something the kids will love and use long after the Easter eggs are forgotten are Kiddies Food Kutters - safety knife for children which will allow them to help make the dinner.
- Allow the children pick one egg each to eat whenever they want and break the rest of it up, bag it and freeze it. Mine thought this was the best fun ever. It was used for subsequent birthday party cake-making extravaganzas!
- Share out the chocolate - bring an egg when you go visiting, break out an egg when you have visitors, drop one into a neighbour that mightn’t have gotten one.
- If all else fails, throw the chocolate out. Controversial I know! The sounds of “I wanted to get them out of the house so I just ate them” are still ringing in my ears after the Christmas selection box season. If we don’t want to eat them or don’t want our children to eat them, why can’t we just throw them away? I know it’s really hard to throw away food but sometimes, it’s for the greater good.