Easter is right around the corner, and every supermarket and drugstore is packed with seasonal sweet treats. Whether you crave Cadbury Crème Eggs or prefer colorful jelly beans, there certainly is a sweet option for everyone.
What if you are trying to make healthy choices this year and take control of your nutrition? Can you actually eat sweets as part of a healthy diet?
I truly believe that sweets and “junk food” can have a place in a healthy, balanced diet. If you focus on eating clean, natural and whole foods on a daily basis, you can certainly incorporate sweet treats in a healthy way. Emphasizing portion-control and moderation is key when indulging in any food.
Below are a few tips for eating sensibly during this time of year, as well as a list of my favorite, healthier sweet treats.
Find Healthy Alternatives
There are a few healthier alternatives to mainstream Easter candy. Below are a few of my personal favorites. Understand that these options are not perfect and still must be consumed in moderation but do provide for a healthier sweet option. If you have the option to purchase these items or any sweet in a portion-controlled container or bag, always do so.
• Theo Chocolate
• Hu Kitchen Chocolate
• Lily’s Chocolate Pops
• Lake Champlain Chocolates
• Endangered Species Chocolate Bug Bites
• Justin’s Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
• Eating Evolved Coconut Butter Cups
Gummies and Candy
• Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks
• Brookside Dark Chocolate Fruit Candies
• Surf Sweets Organic Spring Mix Jelly Beans
• Unreal Candy Chocolate Gems
• Laughing Giraffe Organics Snakaroons
• Almondina Cookies
• Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle
• Whole Foods Chocolate Chewies
Acknowledge Your Cravings
When it comes to our health, it can be easy to go from one extreme to another. We can go from total restriction of sweets to complete overindulgence. Try to find a happy balance; if you go out of your way to deny your cravings, there is a chance that you will overeat. Accept that you will have a small amount of chocolate or dessert. Practice moderation and enjoy these foods in a sensible way.
Quality Over Quantity
Less is always more. Why eat a mediocre candy when you could satisfy your cravings with a great piece of chocolate? Don’t waste calories on a sweet treat that isn’t going to do the trick for you. Focus on quality—what sweet have you been craving or only comes around a few times a year? Make a decision to consciously indulge in that one item and savor the delicious flavors.
Gobbling down chocolate Easter eggs won’t provide any true satisfaction, especially if you can’t remember it. Plus, it certainly won’t make you feel any closer to your family and friends. Try to practice mindful eating every day, but especially during special occasions. Savor every bite and appreciate the diverse flavors and textures of whatever you are eating. When you enjoy food in this way, you don’t need as much to satisfy your cravings.
Remember to enjoy these sweets in moderation, as some can be quite addictive. Always portion yourself out a serving and put it on a plate. Enjoy these treats and have a wonderful Easter.
Stefani Pappas, RDN, CDN, CPT, is a clinical dietitian nutritionist at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck. Visit www.StefHealthTips.com for more information.