Why we should let our children eat chocolate this Easter!
As a busy mum, who has had a particularly crazy March, this Easter I will be celebrating the survival of Term 1 at school and looking forward to some much-needed R and R! For many of us, Easter is one of those special times of the year when family and friends get together, sometimes 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 children.
So what do we do about all the yummy foods that often comes with Easter – are these OK? In short, I say yes, because this is not an everyday situation. Kids do 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 a difference.
I believe it is our role as parents to teach children that all foods are accessible (including junk food). The magic is developing our children’s ability to balance their intake of foods -in a positive way. Through positive role modelling ourselves 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 the junk). The thing is – if we over-restrict kids with what they can eat, it will eventually come back to bite us on the bottom and doesn’t actually help them to become competent eaters. Children that have super strict parents (ie never allow their kids any sweets/treats), will often sneak food or binge on treat food (AKA the forbidden fruit) when they get access. We need to be talking about foods as “everyday foods” and “sometimes foods”.
Having said all of this, we as parents are still allowed to try to moderate their sugar intake over Easter. Here are some tips.
- choose smaller size eggs and preferably the hollow type (vs the caramel cream inside)
- Think about other options for Easter gifts/treats to complement a bit of chocolate - think outside the chocolate square!!!
- Talk the kids about paying more attention to what they are eating and trying to savour each mouthful. This especially applies to adults - make the most of what you eat by eating it slowly and savouring each mouthful so that 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..
- 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 more activity. Try to encourage your children to be as active as possible, whilst making it fun. This could include family walks, games of soccer in the park, family basketball, beach cricket or even home-made obstacle courses in the back yard!
Karina’s DO’s and DON’T’s over Easter:
- 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 excessive 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