Treated.com Clinical Lead Dr Daniel Atkinson was recently asked by Yahoo Style to comment on the effects eating a whole chocolate Easter in one sitting would have on the body.
So we decided to put together the below infographic, to help demonstrate what may occur and when.
The below is based on someone consuming a large-sized milk chocolate egg, weighing around 200 grams, containing roughly 100 grams of sugar.
Packaging on Easter eggs will usually specify 25 grams as a serving. But on the day itself, not everyone may pay heed to this; so consuming and even exceeding reference intakes for added sugar is easily possible.
How much sugar should we be eating?
Daily reference intakes for an adult are 2,000 calories, and 90 grams of sugar. However, this sugar figure refers to total sugars - which includes sugars that occur naturally in foods like milk, cheese, fruit and vegetables.
The natural sugars in these foods are different to those often found in confectionery items such as sweets and chocolate, which contain added sugars. Foods that contain natural sugars often deliver key nutrients as well, such as protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Confectionery items might carry these nutrients, but in much smaller amounts; making them sugar- and calorie-dense.
The recommended upper limit of added sugar intake is actually much lower than 90 grams. To keep the risk of diet-related disease to a minimum, foods containing added sugar should account for no more than five percent of a person’s total daily calorie intake; so really, no more than around 30 grams per day for an adult.
For children, reference intakes are lower. Current NHS guidelines are that those aged between 7 and 10 should consume no more than 24 grams in a day; and children between 4 and 6 no more than 19 grams.
There are some important factors to consider then when reading labels. On food packaging, calorie and sugar content is given as a percentage of adult reference intake, not children’s. Furthermore, the percentage of sugar RI refers to total sugars, not added sugars.
So one large Easter egg, at 110 grams of sugar, rather than merely exceeding the daily RI threshold (90 grams), is in actuality closer to being four times the RI threshold for an adult. For a child, it’s between four and five times the threshold.
Enjoying Easter eggs - but in moderation
This information shouldn’t be taken as a cue to cancel Easter eggs altogether. Enjoying the occasional treat is important, and gifting Easter eggs to family members is a nice tradition to have.
What’s more, holidays spent with family are often a time to indulge and eat a little more than we might normally. As long as this doesn’t become a regular habit, it isn’t going to impact too much on your health.
If giving and receiving Easter eggs is a fixture of the holiday in your household, but you want to stay healthy and avoid putting the body through the effects described above, it might be useful to take the following into consideration:
- Don’t eat your Easter egg all at once. An Easter egg can contain over half of a days worth of total calories, two days worth of saturated fat, and four days worth of added sugar (for an adult). So, try and stick to breaking off and eating a little section at a time, and make it last for more than just one or two days.
- Make a pact to gift more modest-sized eggs. You or the person you’re gifting an egg to will be less inclined to eat as much.
- If you get a large Easter egg, share it.
- Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Dark chocolate made from 70 or 80 percent cocoa solids tends to be richer, so you won’t need to eat as much of it to feel satisfied. It also tends to have a lower sugar content than milk chocolate.
- Have some tupperware at the ready. Resealing your egg in the foil it comes with isn’t always possible, so the temptation may be eat it before it ‘goes stale’. Instead, seal up your Easter egg in a plastic container after you’ve had some, and put it away in the cupboard. You’ll feel less like you need to rush it.
- Keep oral health in mind. Drink some water after eating chocolate, to prevent harmful acids from lingering in the mouth and attacking the teeth and gums. And obviously, make sure you brush your teeth and floss regularly.