I was out shopping the other day and wandered over toward the Easter section, where I found one aisle for decorations, and at least 3 aisles devoted exclusively to candy. It’s almost as if someone took all of the old Halloween candy from a few months ago and repackaged it in pastels.
Long gone are the days of chocolate bunnies and a few handfuls of jelly beans. Now, almost every candy maker has gotten in on the Easter basket action. Peanut butter cups in pastel foil, spring-colored M&Ms, gummy-bunnies (instead of bears), and chocolate-coated, sugar-covered marshmallow chicks are just a few examples of the myriad of choices we have this season. Even candy corn (which I thought were exclusive to Halloween), can now be found in Easter colors.
And most of this candy will likely end up in a child’s Easter basket. A basket full of all of this different Easter candy is another way in which we are teaching our kids to celebrate with food. If you are a good boy or girl, the Easter bunny leaves you a big basket full of empty calories that have no nutritional value. Being good = a junk food reward. This isn’t the message that we want to send to our children.
There are a lot of alternatives out there that can be used to fill up a basket in the place of candy. Here are a few ideas:
- Arts and craft supplies
- Jewelry-making supplies
- Small cars and trucks
- Hair accessories
- Lip glosses
- Sports equipment
- Toys to use for the pool or beach this summer
- Travel-sized kid games or puzzles
- Small Easter-themed toys
- Seeds for starting a Spring garden
Whatever you choose, remember that children are usually happy just to get presents and having extra candy won’t add anything except extra calories. And if you begin to feel like you are depriving your kids by holding back on the sweets, I can guarantee that even if your child’s Easter basket is candy free, they will still get candy this season from grandparents, other relatives or parties at school. This is just one way to get creative and celebrate the Easter holiday with something that will last longer than 24 hours!
Dr. Nicole Avena is a research neuroscientist/psychologist and expert in the fields of nutrition, diet and addiction. She has published over 50 scholarly journal articles, as well as several book chapters on topics related to food, addiction, obesity and eating disorders. She recently edited the book, Animal Models of Eating Disorders (Springer/Humana Press, 2013), and she has a book Why Diets Fail (Ten Speed/Crown) forthcoming in 2014. Her research achievements have been honored by awards from several groups including the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eating Disorders Association.