MARQUETTE - We made it through Halloween, the weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years, through Valentine's Day and the Super Bowl. And now we're hit with Easter.
The most important religious celebration for Christians, Easter has also become the second top-selling candy holiday behind Halloween, according to the National Confectioners Association.
The NCA website estimates 90 million chocolate bunnies and 16 billion jelly beans are produced each year for Easter, along with 5 million marshmallow chicks and bunnies per day to prepare for the holiday. And when you head to the store, it may seem like most of those are staring you in the face, waiting to be purchased and devoured.
A selection of candy for the Easter holiday is seen in a Marquette home on Monday. Wellness experts suggest that candy wrappers be scanned for calorie counts as even small amounts of sweets can add up fast. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Since 88 percent of adults create Easter baskets for their kids, its safe to say at least some of that candy will be making it into your home, making it difficult to stick with the healthy diet the Healthy Weight Journal Community Wellness Challenge has been emphasizing for the past eight weeks.
With some planning, however, the day's abundant sweet treats don't have to derail your healthy lifestyle.
One way to get into the spirit of the springy-holiday without sending yourself into a sugar-induced coma is to focus the treats not just on chocolate and marshmallows, but on fun non-food items. For kids, make sure the Easter basket or Easter egg hunt includes coloring books, bubble wands, jump ropes or other simple goodies that they will enjoy, but don't have to eat. And if you're assembling a basket for an adult, try including a book or magazine they enjoy reading, a gift certificate or a bunch of flowers.
On Easter morning, depending on what your family tradition is, try to incorporate some extra physical activity. If you usually plan an egg hunt, make it more of an obstacle course with different stations focusing on quick exercises. If the weather is nice, plan a family walk or hike before diving into the candy or the Easter ham, so you enjoy each other and the outdoors.
Chocolate bunnies on Easter, however, do seem somewhat inevitable, so if you do find yourself confronted with a basket of candy being aware of what you are eating can make the difference between a small treat and a snack fest that has you feeling bad afterward.
First, be concious of the choices you are making. A piece of candy might seem small, but candy is a calorie-dense food, and those calories can add up quickly.
For example, one Cadbury cream-filled egg contains 150 calories, more if it's a caramel-filled egg. Five marshmallow Peeps tally up to 160 calories, the same number of calories for 20 jelly beans.
Pre-packaged candy should include nutrition information, which makes it easy to see what you are eating, if you choose to read the information, that is.
If you do find yourself indulging in the Easter basket, don't toss your wrappers immediately. Keeping the wrappers in front of you can serve as a reminder for how much you've eaten so far.
Another tip to keeping tabs on your candy intake is to plan out your treats for the day.
As with any holiday, make sure to spend time with your loved ones, which is much easier to do when you aren't feeling guilty or physically ill over too much candy.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.