We all fall victim to the truck load of Easter candy at one time or another, but, believe it or not, there are alternatives. Keith Kantor, PhD shares his tips for a healthier (and happier) Easter for you and the kiddos. 

Easter, except for Halloween, is probably the biggest holiday of the year for candy.  That can be a bad thing—especially since Easter-themed events may stretch out over a week or more. Overconsumption of sugar by kids can lead to moodiness and hyperactivity, and a sugar high can even be misdiagnosed as ADHD.

Regular consumption of processed sugar ties in with a growing problem of obesity, which can lead to diabetes, among Americans. A child who is overweight is three times more likely to be an overweight adult. It’s been estimated that 40 percent of the U.S. population will either be diabetic or pre-diabetic by 2020.  We have to start with the young people to address this growing epidemic.

Easter should be a fun and celebratory time, but it doesn’t have to be all about chocolate.  Kids, believe it or not, don’t care about just the candy. An Easter basket can be filled with inexpensive toys like jewelry, temporary tattoos, a jump rope, bubbles, and stickers.

It’s also healthier to emphasize the religious aspects of the holiday over the commercial ones. The stores made it all about candy, but parents do not have to give in.  By spending time with your children during the holiday weekend, actively playing with them, you’re also burning some calories from whatever candy they (and you!) do end up eating.

When there is a lot of candy around encourage your kids to drink water and stay hydrated. The general rule of thumb is this: whatever your body weight in pounds, drink half that number of ounces of water each day. For example, a 60-pound child should drink 30 ounces of water.

Kids should eat normally before attending a party, which will also help reduce their appetite for unhealthy candy or desserts and snacks. Cut up fruits are a very healthy snack and a good alternative that kids really enjoy.

An egg hunt for actual dyed eggs may be healthier than a hunt for plastic eggs with candy inside.  Use real eggs! The medical opinion of eggs has been improving, and while they should be eaten in moderation, they are now considered healthier than they were a few years ago. But, remember, if you dye eggs with your children, seek out organic dyes.

Of course, some candy is inevitable, but if you insist on the sweet stuff, you do have healthier options to choose from.

Dark chocolate generally contains fewer calories than milk chocolate.  Try Lake Champlain organic dark chocolates and Sjaak’s organic chocolates, including vegan and almond-butter varieties.

Annie’s Organic, which can be found in some grocery stores, offers colorful organic fruit snacks that can be substituted for jellybeans or gummy candies.

Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups, can also be found in milk and dark chocolate and almond butter varieties.

Green and Black’s organic chocolate eggs, are usually easily found at the grocery store.

Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans made with organic juice, and are dye free, non-GMO and gluten free, can be found online or at specialty grocery stores.

Be creative and be mindful about making the holidays about experiences, not treats or gifts.  If you have a special treat in mind, remember that you can always find options with better ingredients in a specialty grocery store, bakery or online. Or, make your own!

Dr. Keith Kantor has been an advocate of natural food and healthy living for 30 years.  In 1994 he was appointed CEO of Service Foods, Inc., the largest all natural food company of its kind in the United States. He is currently the CEO and Founder of the NAMED Program, which frees people from addiction through nutrition.

He has a PhD in Nutritional Science, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and a Doctorate in Business Entrepreneurship. He also holds undergraduate degrees in Biology and Chemistry.

Dr. Kantor has been married for 39 years to Karen DeFiore Kantor. Karen is a registered nurse and is Director of Nursing for Service Foods, Green Box Foods, Blue Ribbon Foods and Southern Foods At Home. They have two children.