How to Create A Healthy Easter Basket:

What Every Parent Should Know

What’s in your children’s Easter baskets?  In addition to brightly colored eggs and candy, you may find such chemicals as Butylated Hydroxytoluene, Blue #2, Isoamyl Acetate, Yellow #6, Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, Dimethyl Sulphide, and Red #40.

“Many parents do not realize that the pretty candies in their children’s Easter baskets are often loaded with artificial additives like synthetic dyes, which can actually harm your children,” said Jane Hersey, National Director of the nonprofit Feingold Association (www.feingold.org), which helps special needs children.

“If you notice that your children act up after eating brightly colored candies, synthetic dyes are the most likely culprit,” said Hersey, whose own daughter was affected by these additives.  “If the Easter Bunny ate these candies, he would probably be bouncing off the walls!”

In the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics has acknowledged in its journal that “a trial of a preservative-free, food coloring-free diet is a reasonable intervention” for hyperactive children.  The American Academy of Family Physicians has also added this statement to its web site: “Studies have shown that certain food colorings and preservatives may cause or worsen hyperactive behavior in some children.”

Hersey Recommends the Following Nine Tips to Prepare a Healthy Easter Basket:

  1. Avoid buying Easter candies containing synthetic food dyes (such as Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1), artificial flavorings, or the preservatives BHA,BHT and TBHQ.

  2. Replace some candy with dried pineapples, figs, raisins, or dates, which are naturally sweet and much more nourishing.

  3. Add 100% fruit roll-ups or homemade trail mix.

  4. Put a stuffed animal, such as a bunny or chick, in the basket to help take the emphasis off sweets.

  5. Include educational toys, books, or disposable cameras in the basket.

  6. Tuck a coupon from the Easter Bunny, good for an outing at a theatre or amusement park, in among the cellophane grass.

  7. Consider using brightly colored plastic Easter eggs or coloring your boiled eggs with either natural dyes or plastic sleeves that are slipped over the eggs and dipped in hot water.

  8. Feed your children breakfast before letting them indulge in Easter sweets in order to reduce the amount of candy they eat.

  9. Plan an Easter egg hunt to help children work off excess energy and get some exercise. 

For more information, and to find a list of low-additive versions of Easter candies, such as chocolate mint patties, peanut butter kisses, jelly beans, and chocolate bunnies, at health food stores, healthy markets, specialty stores, and even supermarkets, visit her website at www.feingold.org.

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