Spring is in the air and thoughts turn to egg hunts, family time and Easter baskets. My four sons are all grown up but after doing some reading on the adverse health effects from synthetic food dyes, I now wish that I had given more consideration as to what I was putting in their Easter baskets.
In the United States, most Easter candy– neon yellow peeps, vivid jelly beans, lollipops and the like, are made with petroleum-based (crude oil) artificial food colors. A study published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, found synthetic food dyes can trigger hyperactivity and inattention in all children, not just those with ADHD. The culprit is not sugar but specific food additives. This prompted the UK to ban these substances in foods and the European Union to require a warning on food labels. The procedure is not yet required in the United States but is currently being researched.
Always check the ingredient list on food labels and avoid candy containing synthetic dyes. Any ingredient listed as a color/number combination is a synthetic dye. (Example: Blue No. 1, Yellow No. 5, Red No. 3, and Green No. 3.)
Below are some creative substitutes to fill a fun, kid-friendly Easter basket. Candy does not have to be the main attraction. Thanks to Maryea at Happy Healthy Mama for some great suggestions:
- Seeds with gardening gloves and other tools
- Art supplies
- Temporary tattoos
- Jump rope
- Sand toys
- Plastic eggs filled with coins
- Homemade cookies
No need to eliminate candy entirely—you can buy jellybeans, chocolate and other candies made with natural food colors and real vanilla. These products can be purchased online at naturalcandystore.com, indiecandy.com, amazon.com (to name a few) and retails stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
Both you and the kiddies will welcome all the fun these healthy baskets bring—Enjoy!
What healthy items are you including in Easter Baskets this year?
Story by: Maria Geronimo, Public Relations Director at EatSmart Products.