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Tips for a Healthier Spring Candy Fling

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Candy tempts me just as it does everyone else, especially when it is chocolate. Estimates suggest that Americans spend over $2 billion a year on Easter candy making it the third largest candy-consuming holiday. In a SparkPeople poll asking which Easter candy is most tempting, Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs are the leader. They are the most tempting to me too especially after Easter when they are on the clearance table!
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with chocolate. We love the melt-in-your-mouth texture and flavor of chocolate especially when we enjoy it with family and friends during celebrations. We hate the guilt that loving it brings as well as the potential damage it can do to our weight loss goals. With Easter only a few days away, the clearance candy is not far behind. Here are some strategies to help keep your spring candy fling in check.

Consider Non-Candy Options
If you are the basket-filler for children or grandchildren, selecting non-candy options is a healthier option for everyone. Not only does it help children learn that candy doesn't have to be the focus of holidays, it helps keep the temptation out of arms reach for you as well. Instead of filling plastic eggs with sugary treats, consider options such as a few real coins instead of chocolate ones or small stickers or temporary tattoos instead of jellybeans. Skip the large chocolate bunny or the squishy yellow Peeps in favor of colorful gel pens, travel games, nail polish, or a yo-yo. Another option is to create a themed basket focused on a specific interest. For the budding herbalist, perhaps a gardening themed basket filled with packets of seeds, child sized gardening tools and small containers to start their seeds. A camping enthusiast might enjoy a flashlight, bug jar, magnifying glass and bug field guide. For the swimmer that just can't wait for the beach select things like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a visor with supplies to decorate it. Be creative and personalize the basket in new and exciting ways.
Focus on Time Instead of Sweets
When I recall some of my fondest childhood memories, I find they don't center on the candy that was in my basket but the special time my family spent together. When we were very young, my brothers and I always had a special brown egg in our Easter baskets. When I was older, I helped my mother make those special eggs using onionskins. We never had Play-Doh in our house (although our Grandma's house did!) but spent many hours playing with the homemade play dough our mother would frequently make in a rainbow of colors. Some years we would cut out and dry spring shapes before Easter so we could paint them after the eggs and baskets had been found. My mother cherishes those ornaments from many years ago and hangs them on an Easter tree each spring as part of her decorations (she has another set for the Christmas tree as well). Perhaps this the year to start a new tradition that not only creates memories for years to come but also fills time with other things besides eating calorie laden sweet treats.
If Candy is a Must, Be Smart
Sometimes it just isn't a holiday without a treat. Whether you prefer chocolate or sticky goodness, be choosy with your selection and portion sizes when selecting candy you are going to be tempted to eat. Consider the treats you can enjoy for 100 calories or less such as twenty-four Jelly Belly jellybeans, six Cadbury Milk Chocolate Mini Eggs or three Marshmallow Peeps. If you find that you can't keep the sweets off your mind, it might be a good time to consider the possibility of a sugar addiction that needs to be addressed. If you think it is time to learn how to control your sweet cravings and incorporate sugar into your diet without going overboard, the SparkPeople Official 4-week "Tame Your Sweet Tooth Challenge" might be a great after Easter goal.
Each spring in addition to flowering trees and new baby chicks, there are candy temptations around every corner. This year, enjoy a taste of your favorite sweet treat but focus on non-candy options for family celebrations.
What strategies do you use to limit your candy intake? What non-candy activities and traditions did you enjoy as a child?

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Since chocolate is not my favorite candy, not much problem. But boy! bring on the jelly beans and peeps and WOW I'm gone. We don't get much jelly beans, mostly jelly bellies, which I don't care for at all. Mostly all we have is chocolate. Report
Holidays were mostly a drag when I was a kid. When I had young children, I used to color hollow eggshells with them... after poking holes in countless eggs to blow the contents out whenever I used eggs in cooking!! Also had an egg hunt for them, with toys in plastic eggs: my favorite part was hiding dozens of eggs and making sure the kids found all of them! I don't like cheap chocolate, so most of the displays I have no problem bypassing. My favorite are malted-milk balls or eggs and I rarely have them.... last year I got those on sale after Easter and rationed them so they lasted for months!! I just came across a partial bag of Easter M & Ms from last year!

For my grandkids, I have a small stuffed bunny for each, with bubble stuff in the tiny basket, one plastic egg with candy for each, and a medium toy for each. I also managed to accumulate 48 blown-out egg shells for my daughter to continue the coloring tradition! The grands are 3 & 7, so that allows for plenty of breakage ;-) It has been hard to find tiny non-candy things to go in plastic eggs for my daughter to hide: stickers, silly bands, colorful erasers. My other 2 grands (2 & 5) are visiting my mother, and my son is a strict personal trainer, so I doubt his kids will get chocolate or any candy. Report
I don't have grandchildren, and my kids are in their early 20's, so I don't have an issue of lot's of candy in the house. My downfall is Cadbury Creme eggs. I usually buy one (4-pack that is) every time I go to the store. This year, I bought my first one, and only one, earlier today, and I still haven't eaten it. Report
Why did you bring up baby chicks in relation to Easter? If you mean that you think that they make an appropriate gift for children, you are wrong. A lot of people buy their children baby chicks and baby bunnies for Easter, only to have them neglected or abused by these children who are too immature for the gift. Animals should never be gifts like this. They should only be bought by people who are going to be responsible for their care. If you have any questions about this, please contact the Humane Society to learn more. The Humane Society receives a lot of rejected pets that were Easter gifts. Report
Easter is not about candy in any way shape or form except I've just blown it big time on malted Easter Eggs. I'll be sending it all home with the grand kids and doing better next year. Report
Not a huge fan of candy, so that is not a problem, it is the "desserts" that come with the holiday gatherings that I have to be careful of. Report
I love the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Three Musketeers Bars. I eat them on special times. Easter is one of them. Report
i limit my candy intake by 1. not buying any and 2. i dont like chocolate... yes i know thats really hard to believe, but its true.. :) Report
Actually as a kid we used to have not so many treats as nowadays. Not to mention we used to colour hard boiled eggs. Also we went to church at least on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Report
I love the chocolate mini eggs. Thankfully I wont be around Easter treats unless I purposely go out and buy some myself. I look back at my Easter memories and I agree it wasn't the chocolates I remember, but the time spent with those I love. Report
I haven't had hot cross buns in years. My father used to make them every year. Report
sent stickers in the eggs for preschool
putting bubbles and such in the baskets at home
read and open the resurrection eggs at home
any candy recieved evaporates via fairies LOL!
donate candy to christmas tree project or dentist buy back!!! Report
My precious in-laws used to make up little packets of nuts & dried fruit for our cherished children to "Easter egg hunt" with & they would buy each a set of clothing. I appreciated their thoughtfulness & have continued the the "new set of clothing" tradition with our treasured Grandblessings. Report
My grandchildren's Easter baskets are filled iwht lots of little toy-type things and not much candy. That being said....I plan to have an Easter Egg hunt in our yard with those plastic eggs, and many of those will probably be filled with jelly bean-type candy. What else will fit in there? I bought a small bag of Hot Tamales for myself. I eat 5 or 6 at a time and when they're gone I won't buy more. But they are sure tasty, and I get my sugar fix this way. I used to eat them by the BIG boxful, so an occasional Hot Tamale now that I'm on maintenance hopefully won't have a horrible impact. Report
I always loved the Brach's chocolate covered fruit & nut eggs. None of the other kids liked them so I guess they don't make them anymore. I haven't bought any Easter candy this year. I have been avoiding buying candy as much as possible. I still eat it sometimes but always buy the mini sizes. Report
I agree Coral, it's just as important to teach kids moderation. We always got mostly toys in our easter baskets as kids, but there was always ONE or TWO treats as well, that's it. As we got older, we'd get eggs filled with dollar bills and real coins. Then as we got much older, we got books in our easter baskets. Usually themed around sprituality, but we'd get other books that we liked too (I still love coloring books, so that's a must).

I have naturally passed this down to my kids. They get a couple little treats (like a cadbury egg or a small pack of jelly beans), and I go to the party aisle & pick up little party favors for their baskets. The dollar store is great for filler stuff too. My kids are still young, so we're in the toy phase, but their baskets will evolve as mine did! :) Report
I agree Coral, it's just as important to teach kids moderation. We always got mostly toys in our easter baskets as kids, but there was always ONE or TWO treats as well, that's it. As we got older, we'd get eggs filled with dollar bills and real coins. Then as we got much older, we got books in our easter baskets. Usually themed around sprituality, but we'd get other books that we liked too (I still love coloring books, so that's a must).

I have naturally passed this down to my kids. They get a couple little treats (like a cadbury egg or a small pack of jelly beans), and I go to the party aisle & pick up little party favors for their baskets. The dollar store is great for filler stuff too. My kids are still young, so we're in the toy phase, but their baskets will evolve as mine did! :) Report
Not giving candy in an easter basket is just grinch-like (or whatever the easter bunny's nemesis is). People who restrict their kids' sugar intake too severely will soon find their children hoarding candy, stealing candy, bingeing on candy when they can because it's taboo. so please, give your kids a little candy. I myself love the mini cadbury creme eggs and caramel eggs, and chocolate candy-coated almond eggs. Report
This year I have a big disincentive for going overboard with candy on Easter. I recently had a cholesterol test that came back higher than I've ever had in my life. Since there is some discussion that added sugars can be a contributing factor to high cholesterol, I'm focusing on cutting out as much sugar as I possibly can from my everyday diet. I also have a friend coming to visit in a few weeks who wants to go to a local candy store that makes incredible homemade chocolates (www dot stowawaysweets dot com). I'll easily pass on the everyday-ordinary Easter junk so I can feel good about indulging in a few Stowaway Sweets! Report
Had no clue that Americans spend $2 BILLION a year on Easter candy...WOWZA!!! Ya learn something new every day! Report
This blog is wonderful. Not only did it tell me how many jelly beans, (my favorite) amounted to 100 calories, it gave me many ideas for alternative activities for Easter. I hadn't thought of several of those ideas and I am always looking for something new. I will be making some of those ornaments this year. I just got some new cookie cutters and they will help to make some lovely new ornaments. Thank You Report
home made chocolate eggs and sugar cookies are the best and even though i know they are calorie rich. In the past when I was DIETING ( not learning how to eat like I am now) you were told you were bad if you even tasted candy!! it was something i was not to have so you know that is what i wanted the most and in the end usually found my self eating several and not just on Easter.
This year since i am here at Spark i have learned we can have a small taste and should not feel bad or beat our selves up. I enjoy the 1 maybe 2 but know no more and take 10 minutes to eat I plan to sit at the table slice it into several pieces an d let each one melt in my mouth and not see how fast or how many i can eat. this will be a easy task as i plan on giving most of them away so i know i won't be tempted to mindless eat the chocolate i just call this early maintenance
eating. Report
its not the candy that does me in, it's the hot cross buns! I always eat too many. Report
It's those speckled robin eggs that lure me in . . . I'm simply spending another week without entering the candy aisle! (Not that it isn't all over the place!) And for each week I don't indulge in the sweets I can see a time when those indulgences, properly controlled, will once again be food choices I make - - - no more mindlessness! Feel the emotion before I eat it - not the remorse after -- That's one of those WONDERFUL things I read and internalized on this website Report
I'm not buying any candy this year. No kids at home and we won't be seeing the grandkids for easter so I see no point in buying candy. My husband and I will color some eggs together and those will be our easter treats. Report
When I was a kid, my parents (er... I mean the Easter Bunny) filled our baskets with a mix of candy treats and fun things like scratch and sniff pencils (remember those?!), hair scrunchies, lip gloss, etc. I was excited about the candy, of course (except for the malted milk balls - blech), but usually got more excited about the other "goodies."

I'm not really a big fan of chocolate (I know - blasphemy!), but LOVE candy. I gave it up for Lent, so I'm looking forward to a handful of jelly beans and perhaps a few Peeps or gumdrops this Easter. And I'll do what I've always done with the chocolate stuff - give it to my sister! Report
How fair is it that Ralphs had a "Buy 2 Get 1 Free" special on the Reese's Eggs RIGHT AT THE REGISTER???? Thanks for your post; very informative. Report
Mmmm, Cadbury Mini Chocolate Eggs..... I adore them and they're so satisfying. I've even taught my daughter how to savor them - you let them rest in your mouth, enjoying the candy shell sweetness until it dissolves, at which point the chocolate inside has largely melted. So yummy!

I find that it just takes 3 or 4 of them to make a great treat, and like you point out, 6 is just 100 calories. Report
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