Redefining the Easter Basket

With National Nutrition Month just behind us and the Easter Bunny on the horizon, figuring out how to balance daily nutrition with holiday indulgences can seem overwhelming. But with an obesity rate that has increased over 150 percent for adults – and children – since 1990, re-visiting your children’s Easter basket and egg hunt along with your family’s daily diet and sugar intake has never been more important.

Dr. John Chang, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare California, says that according to the United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings 2018 report, the nation’s obesity rate is the highest it has ever been. Obesity is a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease, cancer and other conditions. Statistics show that junk-food consumption is a key contributor to obesity, which is defined for a child as being at least 10 percent higher in weight that what is recommended for their height and body type. While an alarming statistic, Dr. Chang notes that it is also one that can be changed for the better through simple behavioral changes.

According to Dr. Chang, a key factor is that less than one percent of all obesity is caused by physical problems; lifestyle-related choices such as poor eating habits, overeating or binge eating can be personally controlled, as well as exercising on a regular basis.

Acceptable limits

So how much sugar is acceptable? There are no current recommendations for limiting natural sugar found in fruits, vegetables and dairy products. However, the World Health Organization and Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults and children reduce their consumption of added sugar to less than 10 percent of their total daily calorie intake.

For someone who consumes 2,000 calories a day, this translates to 200 calories – or about 12 teaspoons of sugar – each day. The American Heart Association recommends an even smaller amount: around nine teaspoons per day for men/boys and six for women/girls.

Easter Basket re-engineered

While one day of indulgence may not seem like much, re-wiring your kids and your habits, including holidays, creates longer lasting benefits. Think about mixing up the Easter basket and plastic egg contents with different kinds of treats and fun gifts, such as applying some of what you spend on candy to piggy bank change in Easter eggs. Other ideas include:

  • Sugar-free gum – sour or fruity
  • Sugar-free and/or fat-free candy and suckers
  • String cheese – it’s fun for kids to pull apart
  • Creating cut outs of fruits and having chocolate sauce for dipping
  • Making an Easter breakfast table with a variety of foods, eggs, fruit, specialty breads and enjoying it as a family
  • Sealed packets of nuts/raisins/pretzels/crackers/small chocolate pieces
  • Plastic jewelry
  • Glow sticks
  • Small game items such as Jacks or barrel of monkeys
  • Temporary tattoos/stickers
  • Small change to start a piggy bank; a great way to reward kids for making healthier choices too!
  • Bubbles
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Colored pencils, crayons or markers
  • Story books or joke books

For more information on healthy living and eating tips, visit www.newsroom.uhc.com.

This article was a courtesy release.