8 Simple Steps to a Happier, Healthier Easter!
It's almost time for the Easter Bunny to make his yearly visit and drop an abundance of chocolatey treats in kids' laps!
But what's the best way to ensure your Easter break is happy and healthy? And how concerned should parents be with hitting nutrition and physical activity targets during school holidays?
What Sitting Down for Too Long Does to Kids' Bodies
Children suffer similar consequences to adults if they spend a large proportion of their days sitting. During school holidays, when active learning is readily swapped for Netflix and video games, young people's cardiorespiratory fitness often declines. Just six hours of sitting in one day will raise blood sugars. After five days of sedentary routines, metabolism slows and risk of heart disease is slightly increased.
According to cardiologists, the only reliable way to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting is to reduce it. When engaged in sit down activities, children must be encouraged to stand up and move around for at least five minutes every half an hour. They could get up for a drink of water, run and up down the stairs, dance to a song on the radio or just pace around the room for a spell.
It counts as long if they're up on their feet and moving most of their body (button bashing while playing Fortnite won't cut it - sorry).
Why You've Got to Cut a Compromise with Sugar at Easter
It's equally important to ensure kids don't overeat at Easter. Chocolate eggs aren't a healthy choice. We know that. At any other time, it would be peculiar to consume so much sugar in a single product. Yet, there's much joy to be had in Easter traditions and, if parents exercise control, reasonably apportioned Easter treats won't harm wellbeing.
The aim of the game is compromise.
You don't need to ban sugary snacks but they should be doled out carefully. The trick food manufacturers play is to market products as if they're single serve snacks. Look at the nutritional information on a typical Easter egg (262g) and you'll see it contains around 7-8 servings!
It's not uncommon for children to eat multiple Easter eggs in one day. Surely, most parents would rethink this if they realised they were giving kids as many as 14 servings worth of fat and sugar!
8 Simple Steps to a Happy, Healthy Easter
8am - Breakfast Time
Eggs do not harm cholesterol in otherwise healthy people. In fact, eating 1-2 eggs per day is a great way to get a generous dose of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, iron and copper. Try scrambled egg burritos, cheddar and chive omelettes or sliced boiled eggs filled with low fat hummus.
11am - Outdoor Activities
In many places, it's traditional to go for a spring walk before sitting down for dinner on Easter Sunday. As little as 20mins of moderate strolling gets metabolism moving and primes the body to burn calories. It also counts towards the 60mins of daily activity required for all children.
1pm - Healthy Snacks
In the hours before dinner, snacks should be light and easy on the tummy. Encourage children to try snacking just like our mascot Bertie Bunny! He loves to chow down on crunchy carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes! Click here for some clever ways to serve veggies to kids at Easter.
3pm - Dinner Time
It's the best part of Easter Sunday but, if you're not careful, overfeeding can leave kids feeling sluggish. To avoid this, serve smaller portions and pair calorie heavy mains (particularly meat and poultry) with lighter veg based sides (salads, roasted veggies, root mash, etc.)
4pm - Easter Egg Hunt
Plan an Easter egg hunt for after dinner to ensure kids utilise the energy provided by their food. We advise against hiding individual chocolates because it increases the likelihood of overeating. Instead, hide toys, healthy snacks or pieces of a treasure map to one big, brilliant prize!
5pm - Treat Time
Balance seasonal indulgence with half term health by focusing a child's attention on one amazing Easter egg. Choose it together. Make it special. You don't need four or five chocolate eggs when you've picked out the best Easter egg in the world! Pay attention to serving advice to make the magic last and avoid tooth decay.
7pm - Family Activities
It's your last chance to hit that 60min activity target! How about playing a dynamic family game? You could try a movement based video game like Just Dance. You might build a pillow fort or play charades. Even dancing with the family dog counts. If your child is stuck for ideas, suggest a little housework before bed. We bet they find their creativity fast!
8pm - Bedtime Rituals
An hour before lights out, turn off screens and digital devices. They emit a blue light which prevents kids' brains from winding down for sleep. Try screen free activities like jigsaw puzzles, storytime, stargazing, drinking warm milk, listening to the radio, etc.