A Sweet Start to Spring without the Sugar Overload

The average Easter basket will hold more than a month’s worth of added sugar. In fact, Easter is second highest in U.S. candy sales, with Halloween in first and Valentine’s Day rounding out the top three. While it’s a day to celebrate, it’s also an opportunity to have a conversation with children about  balancing their candy intake. We’ve got your guide to help understand daily sugar limits, and some non-candy Easter basket items with 100% fun and 0% sugar.

Sugar’s Not So Sweet Side

There are two types of sugar – naturally occurring and added.  Naturally occurring sugars are those found in foods like fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). Added sugar are sugars added during a manufacturing process or at the table and include high frutcose corn syrup, cane sugar, dextrose, and fruit juice concentrate.

Too much sugar adds empty calories, which are calories without any nutritional benefit. Many are aware that too much sugar can contribute to weight gain. However, more than weight gain, sugar can contribute to serious conditions including:

  • Arthritis. Sugar fuels inflammation in the body and has been shown to cause or worsen joint pain.
  • Diabetes. Too much sugar may cause your body to become resistant to insulin, an important hormone that signals muscle, fat, and the liver to absorb sugar from the blood to convert it to energy. When insulin isn’t able to give this signal, high sugar in the blood results and, over the long term, can cause damage to the liver, pancreas, heart, and kidneys.
  • Cavities. Sugar fuels the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities.

Know Your Limit

For good health, the American Heart Association recommends a daily limit of added sugar in the following amounts.

  • Men: no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar per day. This is equivalent to 150 calories.
  • Women: no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day. This is equivalent to 100 calories.
  • Kids: no more than 3-6 teaspoons (12 – 25 grams) of added sugar per day. This is equivalent to 48-100 calories.

So what do these limits look like in candy? USA Today reports favorite Easter candy with more than the daily recommended amount of sugar in just one serving.

  • Marshmallow shaped treats: Four Peeps bunnies contain 26 grams of sugar.
  • Jelly Beans: Just 14 of these traditional treats contain 30 grams of sugar.
  • Malted Chocolate Eggs: A small package of the popular Cadbury brand mini eggs has 30 grams of sugar.

A Month’s Worth of Sugar

USA Today calculated when an Easter basket is filled with a chocolate bunny, a bag of jelly beans, a some Reese’s peanut butter eggs, it contains more than 900 grams of sugar – that’s a month’s worth of sugar and is equivalent to 90 chocolate chip cookies and 23 sodas.

Add the Fun, Not the Sugar

Load up the fun, not the sugar in Easter baskets. Try these sugar-free ideas.

  • Puzzle pieces. Stuff puzzle pieces in plastic eggs. Once found, you have a family-fun activity to work on together.
  • Stickers and temporary tattoos are always a kid favorite and provide creativity and entertainment long after the egg hunt.
  • Whole grain bunny crackers – a tasty treat lower in sugar than candy.
  • Coins
  • Books
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Games

However you choose to celebrate Easter or Spring, Michigan Urgent Care and Occupational Health wishes you the Hoppiest of Days and good health.