I'm thinking about easter and generally, for those of us with children, it involves candy. I guess that I'm looking for suggestions for celebrations that don't involve sugar, and maybe some support for not getting my kids hopped up on chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.
What do other people do?
For Easter we do non-food treats in plastic eggs and also decorate hard boiled eggs. The Easter Bunny will not be bringing any candy. On Valentines Day I got each of my three kids a balloon and tied a hand-made card with a "Valentiney" poem copied inside - no chocolate, and they did not miss it. I bring fruit kabobs rather than cupcakes for b-day parties at school - all the kids love them!
Based on my own experience I would recommend trying to eliminate as much sugar as possible and not rationalizing it away ("just this once", "well, it’s a special occasion", etc.). If you stop to really think about it, between all the holidays and b-day parties both at home and at school, kids these days get A LOT of sugar. And the sugar is often wrapped up in a package of processed flour and trans fat...
I'm also not so sure that all kids that are restricted alawys binge when parents are not around. I found my kids did do this at first, but I realized I was restricting w/o enough education. I explained in detail to my kids why I think sugar is unhealthy and why I don't eat it much. I also set up an incentive system to encourage them to refuse cupcakes and such at school.
If my kids do go crazy with sugar once they have more independence, I still feel my restrictions will have accomplished a few things:
1) I've kept their growing bodies healthy a little longer: this is my job as a mom, and I need to do this to the best of my ability while they live under my roof and are dependent on me.
2) Their taste buds adjust, so if they do stray they'll need less to satisfy: when I started restricting sugar my kids needed lots of honey on plain yogurt, now they love it plain-even w/o fruit. They love 85% dark chocolate (even my 4 yo) and reject things their friends eat as "too sweet". My middle child now even passes on ripe pears or bananas as they taste too sweet to him... and he opted for a Greek yogurt "sundae bar" (coconut, berries, chopped macedamia nuts and chopped 85% choc for toppings...) for the desert at his recent birthday party even though I offered to bake a cake if that's what he really wanted.
3) I've given them a foundation which will inform future decisions: I have heard stories about sugar-restricted kids going overboard when they get older, but I've also heard stories of rebelious sugar binging teens who reform once they feel/see the effects of deviating from the healthy fare they got when younger.
I think we can really do our children a service by teaching them that every holiday get- together (or let's be honest, every celebration, sporting event, casual dinner party, playdate, etc...) need not be punctuated by sugary treats.
This easter I promised to buy my daughters two real rabbits for pets, but I think this maybe a little extreme!
I have just read the book 'Little Sugar Addicts' by Kathleen Desmaisons, it is absolutely excellent and will address everything you need to know about children and sugar.....I tried the seven step program with my whole family, who had become a little too dependent on sugar for my liking....and it really, really is worth a look.
I believe that banning sugar is a no no for kids as I have seen youngsters who are not allowed chocolate and sweets, binge on them when they are out of sight of the parent, so I think EDUCATION into the best quality sugar is a must. I take my kids to the chocolaterie as a treat - it as a REAL special deal, introduce them to flavors like lavender chocolate (85% dark), chili chocolate and hot chocolate made with real dark chocolate and cream which they all think is great fun, we do this once a week and they rarely eat candies at any other time. They think they are very lucky children!
I like to keep it simple over the holidays: Easter egg hunts involve real boiled (in their shells) eggs dipped in food coloring hidden all around the garden, we collect them in pretty baskets tied with ribbons and the prize is (after eating one of the eggs) one large Lindt chocolate bunny each, (available in most supermarkets in Europe) it comes with a bell around its neck, they receive nothing else (all other cheap chocolate presents of eggs I give away) and it is treated as something really special (along with the real furry bunnies). They have an Easter of fun and quality dark (85%) chocolate and again, they think they have not missed out one little bit.
I am going to play a bit of devil's advocate here: I don't have kids (yet) but I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about it personally... I don't think a few small indulgences will hurt them, remember Grok would have occasionally feasted on honey/ripe fruit so I think it is marginally in our evolutionary history.
The more I get into Paleo the more I start to think how bad SAD is. But then sometimes I am forced to remind myself of my Granmother, who just turned 91 and is in pretty good shape and her favourite food-for coming close to a century now-is honey on toast!
While I don't think the odd hit of good chocolate is all that bad, why not try something like about half whipped cream with half whipped cream cheese and flavouring (say vanilla or cocoa powder) added. It comes out similar to a cheesecake creamy dessert which nobody I have met has turned down.
Sometimes I'll even add a couple of spoonfuls of homemade low sugar jam (using apple juice as sweetener).
There are also recipes for nut cookies that are pretty tasty- they tend to get soggy after they sit, so I crisp them up in the oven after a couple of days if they are still around.
Keep the bunny, nix the jelly beans.
I don't have kids yet, but I imagine the social pressures are the toughest part.
"But mooooooooooom all my friends get chocolate eggs for Easter!"
On one hand you don't want them to associate candy with joy, but on the other you have to be realistic.
You could try this recipe for stevia-sweetened cream eggs. You could do some traditional egg decorating. I think Hearthsong (and their other cute catalog Magic Cabin) has great non-candy things to go in Easter baskets. In fact, a decade ago that's where my mom got lots of stuff for ours!
They might get jelly beans and church or somewhere else (I remember our church gave us candy for pretty much everything), but you do what you can at home and take comfort in that most kids will be getting TONS of candy at home AND everywhere else.
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