During a trivia contest on "TheTodd Starnes Show" on Fox News Radio Friday, the question came up – which Easter food is most consumed. Answers came back from our esteemed panel of guessers – dyed eggs, Cadbury chocolates, jelly beans, chocolate Easter bunnies and then one I barely considered, a wingless chick-shaped colored marshmallow candy known everywhere as Peeps.
It turns out that 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made each year, and that 89 percent of Americans think they should be eaten ears first. I agree. The ears are delicious and easily accessible. But it isn’t only chocolate bunnies that produce the sugar load: Americans consume 16 billion jellybeans on Easter and eat more than 700 million chick-shaped Peeps. Consider that in 1953, when Peeps were first being created, it took 27 hours to make one. Now it takes six minutes.
The problem is that Peeps are far from healthy. Aside from the dye, they are almost all sugar, with 110 calories and 28 grams of sugar found in four yellow Peeps bunnies.
This is especially problematic when you consider that the American Heart Association recommends less than 25 grams of added sugar per day for a child under the age of 18. Perhaps if the American habit of eating tons of sugar were limited to celebrations such as Easter we would be OK. But the average American consumes over 150 pounds of sugar a year, far more than we need. You don’t have to be a practicing internist like me to know that excess sugar leads to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Consider that 200 years ago, we Americans only ate two pounds of sugar per year.
If you eat an entire chocolate Easter bunny, please forego the chocolate cake.
I won’t be eating Peeps or nibbling the ears off chocolate bunnies over the next week, but I will be eating matzah, another problematic carbohydrate that is low in fiber and also causes constipation.
An average board of matzah has 130 calories, twice as much as a slice of bread. And that’s not even taking into account the jam or butter or cream cheese that we love to lather on top of it.
The solution to the sugar problem is not to be found with a simple prescription or a bit of casual advice. But I would suggest this: Don’t just sit there. Exercise before, during, and after your holiday celebration. Take a long walk with friends or family.
Drink water to go along with the wine, in order to keep yourself well-hydrated. And though I will never win the war against marshmallow Peeps, even from purely a health perspective, how about augmenting this Easter icon with some zucchini sticks, avocado spread, kale salad, and plenty of fruit and berries.
And if you eat an entire chocolate Easter bunny, please forego the chocolate cake this time.