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Easter Eggs for kids - the good and the not so good

I have a love-hate relationship with the Phoenix store in town. Friendly pharmacists, great toys, a surprising stash of organic skincare options… and the biggest supply of chocolate known to man. In fact, in the run up to Easter, a walk through the central aisles is enough to make me break out in a mild sweat. With chocolate eggs, chicks and God knows what else stacked floor to ceiling, it's enough to test the resolve of even the most reformed chocoholic. How mean. I almost lost control and started biting the heads of Lindt bunny rabbits.

Ironically enough, just as I was considering at which end of the aisle to start, the radio caught my attention. The Health Minister, Zane DeSilva, was discussing our latest diabetes statistics and mentioned Bermuda's youngest case yet of Type Two diabetes. If you need clarification, Type Two diabetes is the kind that is brought on through lifestyle associated behaviours too much stress, weight gain or prolific consumption of sugar being prime examples. Historically, Type Two tends to kick in around middle age, which is why it's also referred to as “adult onset” diabetes. But this case manifested in a child just 18 months old. The Minister mentioned that too much juice and candy were thought to be the cause. That's horrifying.

As a mum-of-two I do understand that what you would like your child to eat and what your child will actually eat can be two completely different things. But at 18 months old and for a long time after that dietary intake is largely dictated by parents. We wouldn't feed our pets or plants sodas or candy, so why do we give it to our kids? Peer pressure makes things tricky and the hardest times to avoid the sugary stuff are birthday parties and holidays especially Christmas and Easter. You want your children to take part in all the fun and to enjoy some treats, but how do you keep that to a healthy minimum?

My two top tips for managing chocolate overload at Easter are these. Firstly, in the nicest possible way, try and encourage doting family members to buy toys, clothes or books rather than chocolate as gifts. Secondly, if you are doing an Easter egg hunt, use the plastic egg cases and stuff half with little toys or stickers rather than candy. Put just one Smartie or Mini Egg in all the others and spread them far and wide, helping the kids to burn off the sugar as they go.

Also, when it comes to picking out an egg, or other Easter treats, check out my top and bottom five. Go for the top five with a relatively clear conscience but avoid the bottom five like the plague!

Easter Eggs and Treats for Kids Top 5

1. Disney 55g Chocolate Eggs with toy gifts

I have a lot of complaints to make to Disney, largely due to Chloe believing that getting married to a real live prince is an option. However, they have excelled themselves in the Easter egg department by putting together super-appealing gift packs that combine one small 55g egg, with a great themed gift. No child will think they've been hard done by with one of these. Pick from Minnie/Mickey Mouse, Disney princesses, Tinkerbell and Generator Rex to name a few. Toys include little mugs, plate sets, toaster imprints, sports cups and fun little bags.

2. Small Cadbury's Chocolate Buttons Egg

Well done Cadbury's for making a winner with this tiny but fun Easter egg. There's not much difference between the fat/sugar content of many all-chocolate egg brands, so as with the first, it's a winner mainly because it's so small. This tiny egg and treat bag of buttons (101g total) will cost you a mere $4.50. That probably leaves you enough change to buy a small toy too.

3. Small Cadbury's Chocolate Egg with toy monkey or toy Freddo

Again these eggs do a great job of combining a smaller amount of chocolate with a fun little toy. If you really want the nitty gritty, then the Freddo treat option has approximately half the sugar and fat of the chocolate buttons option but probably just because the treat is smaller.

4. Disney Plush Toy Eggs

If the kid in your life loves Winnie the Pooh then these are a great option. The eggs are small (you see there's a theme here…) and the toy is huge but so is the $33.95 price tag.

5. Tiny Lindt Bunny Rabbits

At a very affordable $1.35 each and in bite-sized portions, this is the most nutritionally sound choice. However you do run the risk of being voted No Fun Whatsoever so you may need a good toy backup depending on the expectations you have set in previous years.

Easter Eggs and Treats for Kids Bottom 5

1. Disney or other cartoon tin buckets with Eggs and marshmallows

There's nothing Eastery (yes I made that up) about marshmallows and all they do here is add a sugar surge with an extra dose of artificial colour. Don't do it!

2. M&M EggsThere's nothing really wrong with the eggs themselves, but the M&M treats are artificially-coloured. There's nothing like a dose of Lake Blue and Red 40 to help your little ones climb the walls when they should be sleeping. A better alternative would be a Smarties egg which uses natural colours.

3. Yorkie cardboard truck eggA large egg in a super-attractive lorry box marketed at kids. The problem being that the egg and two accompanying chocolate bars are enormous. Chocolate overload.

4. Brach's chocolate-covered marshmallow rabbits

Just one little packet of these chocolate-covered marshmallow rabbits delivers a whopping 24g of sugar (that's more than six teaspoons). The Hershey's chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs are just as bad.

5. Jolly Rancher Sour BunniesPacked full of sugar and artificial colours/flavours, these are awful. After the initial sugar rush, they will leave your kids feeling hungry and cranky too. You can't expect good behaviour from children who are riding a blood sugar roller-coaster!

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the managing director of natural ltd and a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details, visit www.natural.bm or call 236-7511.

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Published March 16, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 16, 2012 at 9:28 am)

Easter Eggs for kids - the good and the not so good

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