Many of us are likely to be looking forward to tucking into chocolate over Easter. But are we having too much of a good thing? Read on for our top tips for adults and kids alike and two of our favourite chocolate recipes. And keep an eye out for Heather on TV3 on Saturday talking about a healthier Easter.
How many eggs????
Children in Ireland will eat their way through a whopping 5 million chocolate eggs this Easter. That’s an additional 460 tonnes of sugar over the few days of the Easter period according to The Irish Heart Foundation. They are so concerned about the long-term impact of this, with young people now showing signs of high blood pressure and heart disease, that they are campaigning to raise awareness of the widespread marketing of unhealthy foods to children.
Easter treats are so heavily discounted and widely available now that it’s not uncommon for children to get eggs from friends and neighbours in addition to parents, grandparents, god parents, cousins….. On average, children will eat 4 eggs, with many eating more than that.
Obesity experts like Dr Donal O’Shea are also concerned about the size of eggs actively being marketed to children. Look carefully at the packaging and you may spot the nutritional information given per portion size, although typically only on the smaller eggs. These are usually 4 portions per small egg according to the food manufacturers. Ever seen a child eat ¼ of a small egg and put the rest away for later?
How much is too much?
The World Health Organisation has recommended that the sugar limit for children be reduced to 5% of energy intake, equating to no more than 3 tsp added sugar for children, 6 tsp for women and 9 for men. Consider that even the smallest of eggs can have 6 or more teaspoons and you can understand why health organisations are getting concerned.
|Mini egg, crème-egg size||3 – 6 tsp sugar, depending on whether filled|
|Small egg (c. 100g) with 1 treat||23 tsp sugar (more than a week’s sugar for a child)|
|Medium egg (c. 200g) with 2 treats||40 tsp (13 day’s sugar for a child)|
|Large egg (c. 300g) with 5 treats||75 tsp (25 day’s sugar for a child)|
Bear in mind
- Dark chocolate will have less sugar, making it a great option for adults. However, it may not be suitable for small children due to caffeine content
- White chocolate usually has more sugar than either milk or dark
- Sugar free eggs will usually contain sugar substitutes, which are often no better
What can parents do?
It’s not about ruining Easter. Aim is to let your children enjoy Easter with an age-appropriate treat like a small chocolate egg, but to avoid a mountain of chocolate building at home
- Organise a family activity or give an alternative Easter-related gift instead of giving your kids an egg yourself.
- For friends and family members you know well, ask them not to give an Easter egg
- Use small plastic or real painted (hard-boiled!) eggs for Easter Egg hunts. Gather these to collect your real Easter egg
On Easter Sunday – for kids and adults alike
- Start the day with proper breakfast instead of chocolate
- Pick one (ideally small) egg to eat on Easter Sunday
- Save the treats that come with it for another day
- Chose hollow rather than solid eggs
- Store the rest out of sight as treats over the next weeks/ months. Melt to make choc fondue to dip fresh fruit in over the spring / summer
Alternative Easter gifts
Ideally combine a gift with something that will keep kids occupied over the holidays
- Packet of flower seeds + small trowel / flower pot.
- Ice pop moulds to make fruit pops
- Book / book token
- Easter bunny mask / food dye and paint brushes to paint real eggs or other art-based presents
- Cinema ticket or other family activity
- Let the kids lose in Tiger or euro shop to find non-food related present for €2 or €3
- It’s not just kids! Give grandparents a piece of art or craft made by kids or bunch of flowers instead of chocolate
- Keep the size of treat age-appropriate
- Give non-chocolate presents yourself
- Chose 1 egg for Easter Sunday and store the rest out of sight
Have a lovely Easter from Heather, Ciara and the Glenville Nutrition Ireland team