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A dietitian's guide to managing Easter chocolate with kids

Jessica Beaton

Jessica Beaton

Accredited practising dietitian, family mealtime coach, and co-director of One Handed Cooks (a baby, toddler and family food website), Jessica gives parents the knowledge and confidence to navigate the challenges of feeding their children, and whole family, so that mealtimes are nutritious, happy, and enjoyable. She combines her journey as a mum of four fun-loving boys with...
Created on Mar 26, 2024 · 5 mins read

As Easter approaches, many children are excited for a season filled with colourful eggs, chocolate bunnies, and delicious food. 


However, amongst all the excitement, come the Easter long weekend it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when you see your child with a basket overflowing with Easter chocolate. Parents can quickly lose sight of the joy it can bring. 

For an approach that nurtures trust and connection with your kids around food and eating, as well as life-long positive eating behaviours, let’s embrace a mindful approach that loses the limits and ditches any bribery.

Instead, we’re setting boundaries and shifting the focus away from the chocolate itself towards family, connection, and enjoying time together. 

The following tips will guide you to manage the Easter chocolate with confidence even if you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

 

Embrace the excitement


As early as January – in what feels like minutes after the Christmas tree is packed away – we see the hot cross buns arriving, the colouring-in competitions heating up, and the chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies lining the shelves. 

Embrace their excitement and plan some non-food activities too, such as Easter crafts and decorations, reading books about the Easter bunny and their adventures, or planning some fun family adventures for the long weekend – beach swims, park plays, and bushwalks.


Enjoy the chocolate


On Easter Sunday, or any day they receive most of their Easter chocolate, allow your child to much down their chocolate freely, eating it when they like and as much as they like. 

This gives kids the opportunity to listen to their bodies and trust their appetites, promoting self-regulation. It may be hard to watch at first, but without excessive rules, restrictions, or bribery, they often become less fixated on their chocolate. 

If your kid doesn’t have a sugary sweet often, chances are they’ll smash it all down day. Guess what? Then it’s all gone and you can return to your usual eating routine. 

And if they get a ton of it early on, they may tire of the chocolate and save some for later (even if it’s five minutes later!) or even forget about it. Your child may even over-indulge and there’s a lesson in that too. They’re learning how to self-limit their chocolate consumption in the future – there’s hope, trust me!

Note: If you feel like the Easter chocolate haul is excessive, you may like to cull a few (or enjoy some yourself), but be careful not to lose your child’s trust. 

Some other tips are to use the chocolate in baking together, and try to be transparent with your children, particularly the older ones! Trust and connection around food and mealtimes are so important. 


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Set the boundaries


After the initial day(s) of enjoying Easter chocolate freely, return to your family’s regular mealtime and snack schedule to provide the structure and balance they’re used to. 

Instead, make Easter chocolate available at scheduled mealtimes and snacks. 

When preparing their usual meal or snack, allow them to choose a selection of their Easter chocolate and then pop it back away until the next snack or mealtime. If they ask in between mealtimes for their chocolate, you might like to reply with something like, “I can hear you’d like some chocolate now. We just enjoyed some of our chocolate as part of lunch, didn’t we? We can have some more chocolate with our afternoon tea.”. 

This acknowledges their want for chocolate now, and communicates clearly why it’s not being offered and when it will be offered next. 

Using the Division of Responsibility in Feeding will help you to set and maintain these boundaries with confidence and build trust. It empowers your children to make their own choices within established boundaries, and gives them the autonomy they crave. 

The ‘Division of Responsibility in Feeding’ is where we as parents/carers are responsible for when a child eats and what foods are offered, and your child is responsible for what foods are offered and how much they choose to eat. 

Be consistent


You’re likely very familiar with your child’s eating behaviours – which foods they enjoy and how they like to eat them. If you have multiple kids, you can likely predict the child that will want to eat their Easter chocolate in one sitting, versus the child that will have their haul last for weeks and months. 

Remember to focus as much on the family as you can, rather than on how they are eating their Easter chocolate and how much; keep any commentary or comparison neutral, free of shame or guilt as much as possible. Over the coming days and years, with a consistent and connected approach, you will notice they feel more familiar with what to expect from you during festive seasons. Thanks to the the boost of trust, connection, and autonomy they will likely continue a more mindful approach to enjoying their Easter chocolate. 

Lead by example


Kids will often do more of what we do compared with what we say. Awareness of your own attitude to chocolate and removing any feelings of guilt and restriction yourself, if necessary, will reflect as a positive example for them. 

It reinforces mindfulness and consistency too. Enjoy your chocolate mindfully as you would like your children to, eat it freely as you allow them to, and then keep it to snack times and mealtimes as you offer it to your children. Plus, enjoying it all together makes it more enjoyable and even more sweeter.

Happy Easter!

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