As holidays have evolved from religious occasions to heavily-commercialized opportunities for excessive consumption, they contribute to rising rates of childhood obesity, not so much by serving as perennial pig-outs for kids (think Halloween bags, Christmas stockings and Easter baskets) but rather by cementing the association in their young minds between celebration and stuffing themselves silly with sugar-loaded, fat-laden, high-calorie foods.
Maybe these once-in-a-while indulgences won’t matter so much when they’re young and their furnace-like little metabolisms can make quick work of the typical 2,000-calorie Easter basket and its 100 grams of fat. But when those marshmallow bunnies and cream-filled candy eggs are but a faint, fond memory, the childhood-formed habit of marking special occasions by making pigs of themselves may encumber their adult efforts to maintain a healthy weight.
Spring is a wonderful time to turn over new leaves — so why not start a new tradition by making this Easter a healthy one? Here are some ideas.
Embrace the dark side
No-one is suggesting you avoid chocolate altogether on Easter. Where is the fun in that? However, instead of opting for milk chocolate eggs, pick out the dark chocolate from that pile of eggs you received today.
In 2008, researchers from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is not only more filling than milk chocolate, it also lessens our subsequent cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.
Dark chocolate also has double the antioxidants of milk chocolate, but the good news doesn’t stop there. German research has found just six grams of dark chocolate a day can help lower blood pressure. And, of course, you can always add the benefits of fruit to the mix by drizzling melted chocolate over strawberries, bananas or kiwifruit.
Try substituting healthy treats
Easter can be a great time to introduce your children to bright-colored exotic fruits that fit right in their baskets like kumquats, star fruit, egg-shaped kiwis and those super-cute doll-sized pears. Add a mini-pack of carrots and a DOLE® fruit bowl. Or buy hollow plastic eggs that can be filled with healthy munchies like peanuts and raisins. Read the rest of this entry »