As a registered dietitian, I get asked questions on a daily basis about food and nutrition. Easter - filled with celebrations, Easter egg hunts, family, and friends - is often a time of sharing traditions, which often involves food. Holiday meals have great potential to be both nutritious and delicious!
A meal of ham or turkey, vegetables, buns or stuffing, and dessert has a good chance of having 3-4 food groups from Canada's Food Guide, making it a nutritionally balanced meal.
There many ways to make your Easter meal even more nutritious, such as:
- Offering sweet potatoes or yams, as well as potatoes;
- Including colourful veggies, like carrots, brussel sprouts, and beets;
- Serving up something green like asparagus or a simple green leafy salad;
- Choosing whole wheat bread for your stuffing, and adding cranberries or chopped apples, walnuts, and finely chopped carrots and celery; and
- Considering a dessert that includes fruit and/or dairy, such as a fruit crumble or a milk-based pudding.
Adults may worry about how much they eat at these celebrations. Healthy eating is not just about one meal or one day. Rather, it's about your overall approach to eating. On the day of the celebrations, it can be helpful to continue with your regular meal and snack pattern, so that you can listen to your hunger and fullness cues. Buffet style meals can often leave you feeling overfull from wanting to try a little bit of everything. Instead, survey your options, and choose those things you really want to try. You can always come back for more if you are still hungry. Take your time during holiday meals – eat slowly, and enjoy the time with family and friends. Remember that the holidays are about the whole experience – enjoy the meal, the company, and the memories made.
What about the treats and chocolate?
Easter egg hunts for the kids often involve searching for chocolate and candy treats. And while treats are definitely a part of traditions and a healthy approach to eating, sometimes it can be easy for everyone to overindulge in those treats. Include non-food items in your Easter baskets and egg hunts to add variety – they are just as fun as the chocolates and candy. Things like stickers, colouring books, or stuffed animals can make great gifts, or include items that will get you and your family physically active like skipping ropes, hula hoops, or passes to the local pool or skating rink.