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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holiday Candy: Easter Dream or Dread?

Another holiday is approaching and sadly, the commercialism surrounding it markets to our American sweet tooth and our love of a gimmick.  Take any candy, add a pastel wrapper or miniaturize it and Viola!  You have more and more Americans paying to gain weight.  Now don't get me wrong - I'm not the kind of dietitian that believes in a sugarless holiday.  Heaven only knows that I will be consuming a token Peep, and a dark chocolate egg or two, however, that is about the extent of it.  That is where we trip up as a nation - we rarely adhere to the "too much of a good thing" rule. 
Here are some ways to control the sugar-overload:
  • Limit to seasonal favorites.  Just because a KitKat has bunny ears embossed on the chocolate doesn't mean you have to eat one this Easter.  Leave the candy you can get anytime for another time. 
  • Portion control.  A strip of Peeps has always been meant to be shared - sorry folks but 12 peeps isn't an appropriate serving size.  :)  Take advantage of the small, miniature sizes and eat just one after a meal.  
  • Spread it out.  Fight the urge to binge on the contents of your Easter basket or Easter eggs all on one day.  A lot of our holiday candy consumption comes not from true cravings, but from tradition or mindless habit.   Not only will this save you one, whomping stomachache, but older candy is less appealing and easier to throw out.
  • Don't hesitate to toss it.  Just because you have it doesn't mean you have to keep it and consume it.  Keep a few favorites and toss the rest.  This is a great way to teach your kids moderation and a healthy relationship with food.  There is no reason for you to continue to eat candy that you don't absolutely love.  (And lets face it - a lot of the candy at Easter is cuter than it is tasty).
  • Use for decoration, not consumption.  A lot of the charm of Easter candy comes from it's spring-colored packaging.  This makes it ideal for decoration, so take advantage of that.  So instead of in a candy dish, put it between two glass vases with flowers inside, or string your Peeps for a festive banner, but remember, we don't eat decorations, we throw them out.  You get the color and charm without the calories. 
  • Fill your eggs and baskets with non-edibles.  Instead of stuffing your eggs with candy, use stickers, or coupons ("good for staying up 30 minutes past your bedtime" or "good for making your bed").  Fill your Easter baskets with fun items that encourage activity, not just gorging on sugar.  Ideas include: Jump ropes, bubbles, an apron and chef's hat, footballs, frisbees, etc.  
Hopefully that gives you some ideas on how to curb the holiday sweet-tooth-syndrome this Easter season.  I'd much rather enjoy a strawberry-topped angel food cake than forgettable, foil-wrapped cheap chocolate.  Remember - just because you bought it or were given it as a gift, doesn't mean you have to eat it.  When in doubt - toss it out.  

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