Clare Bailey: How to stop the Easter sugar rush for your children 


Q: Every year I worry about the amount of chocolate my children, aged six and 11, demolish over Easter. I try to keep it to a minimum, but somehow end up sabotaged by well-meaning family.

I fear I am seen as the Easter Grinch, but how do I ask relatives not to give eggs, and make my kids see that Easter isn’t just a chocolate extravaganza?

A: I do sympathise! My children, now adults, still look forward to chocolate eggs every year, and there’s nothing wrong with that — in moderation. But it seems the Easter Bunny now displays its wares in the shops weeks before the holiday, tempting children on a daily basis. Then, after Easter, there are cut-price eggs, too.

As milk chocolate has just the right mix of fat and sugar, it bypasses the hormone signals that tell us we have had enough. I recall when my son tasted chocolate for the first time aged 18 months, demanding ‘more, more, more’, when he’d never been excited about food before.

GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice on how to stop the sugar rush in your children at Easter

GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice on how to stop the sugar rush in your children at Easter

But does one weekend binge matter? Yes, it does, given the effect sugar has on behaviour, mood and the ability to learn.

To give you an idea of how easy it is to overdo it, one regular Cadbury Creme Egg has 26.5g, or more than 6.5 tsp, of sugar. To put this into perspective, the NHS suggests the following limits per day: under four, avoid added sugars; ages four to six, 19g or 5 tsp; ages seven to ten, 24g or 6 tsp; 11 and over, 30g or 7 tsp.

Larger chocolate eggs, which can weigh around 400g each, may contain more than 200g or 50 tsp of sugar. But on labels, sugars are often hard to identify. More than 80 ingredients are sugar by another name, such as agave nectar, lactose, maltose and apple juice concentrate.

I’ve been reading Sugarproof by Dr Emily Ventura and Professor Michael Goran. They say many parents believe children can handle the sugar load, as they are young and active. But children in the UK are regularly consuming around 52g or 13 tsp of sugar a day, which is far too much.

Half of it comes from sugary drinks, sweets, biscuits, cakes, puddings, breakfast cereals and yoghurts. Often these products are marketed as healthy, with claims such as ‘high in calcium’, ‘contains real fruit’, and ‘whole grain’ disguising the fact that they have a lot of added sugar.

Even in those who are not overweight, too much sugar could cause acne, dental decay, digestive issues and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

She said it seems like the Easter Bunny now displays its ware in the shops weeks before the holiday, tempting children on a daily basis, adding that children in the UK are regularly consuming around 52g or 13 tsp of sugar a day, which is far too much (stock photo)

She said it seems like the Easter Bunny now displays its ware in the shops weeks before the holiday, tempting children on a daily basis, adding that children in the UK are regularly consuming around 52g or 13 tsp of sugar a day, which is far too much (stock photo)

Dr Ventura and Professor Goran provide many practical solutions to help families reduce their intake, such as removing temptation from sight and providing alternatives.

With encouragement, children can come to appreciate the tastes of natural foods and regulate their sugar intake. The goal is to be able to enjoy some treats without overdoing it.

As for Easter, maybe Granny can be persuaded to give a small chocolate egg, and add an Easter colouring book or bunny hair slides instead. It’s down to all of us to set our children up for long and healthy lives.

Now we’re heading into hayfever season, don’t get caught out by expensive antihistamines. Remedies can vary in price by 100 per cent, even though the ingredients are the same. Boots’ own-brand Hayfever And Allergy Relief 10mg Tablets cost £14.22 for 90 tablets, making each pill around 16p. 

But a pack of 30 Allacan 10mg Film-Coated Tablets from Boots, containing the same antihistamine, costs £1.99, making each tablet 7p. So it’s worth spending a little time calculating the costs. As my mother said, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. 

TWEETING DOES BOOST YOUR MOOD 

Noise pollution from traffic and phones can leave me on edge. But when I’m in my local beech forest, my shoulders drop as I tune in to birdsong and the sound of rustling trees. A recent study proved that listening to natural sounds can improve health, boost mood and lower stress. So, for my next walk into town, I’ll download the Calm app and listen to birds tweeting as cars rush by. 

You can write to Clare at [email protected] or Daily Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.  

A recent study proved that listening to natural sounds such as birds tweeting can improve health, boost mood and lower stress

A recent study proved that listening to natural sounds such as birds tweeting can improve health, boost mood and lower stress 

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