For most of us, Easter may be a little different this year. The Coronavirus pandemic means we’re unable to get together with family and friends in the same way that we usually would. However, what still remains the same is the supermarket shelves being packed with the temptation of brightly packaged chocolates and hot cross buns. And since the supermarket is one of the only places we can go at the moment, we might find ourselves facing new challenges when it comes to navigating Easter this year.
We’ve put together our top tips on how to have a healthy Easter – remembering that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with indulging a little!
Not all chocolate is created equal. Milk chocolate is primarily sugar and milk powder, whilst dark chocolate tends to have a higher percentage of cocoa and is lower in sugar. Having large amounts of foods high in sugar (such as milk chocolate) can cause spikes in our blood sugar levels, which over time can lead to weight gain and increased risk of chronic disease.
If you’re looking for a more nutritious option, we’d recommend selecting a high quality, dark chocolate (75% cocoa +). That being said, allowing flexibility in your diet to enjoy the foods you love, which includes chocolate, is important in making sure your food choices are sustainable in the long run.
Eating mindfully can help you to become more aware of your food choices over the Easter period. The goal of mindfulness is to practise paying attention on purpose and non-judgmentally to one single thing (in this case, eating a chocolate Easter egg!). It involves becoming more aware of what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, and why you’re eating it!
Before having a piece of chocolate, stop and take a moment to reflect. Ask yourself why you want it. Is it because it’s being offered to you, or perhaps you’re eating it because you feel like Easter is the only time of year you can enjoy chocolate? Or is it because you genuinely want to taste and savour it? If it’s the latter – then great! Take the time to enjoy it free from distractions such as the TV, and think about the smell, taste, and texture of every bite.
However, if you’re having the chocolate for a different reason, take a moment to reflect and reassess. Ask yourself whether you really want to eat it, or could you feel satisfied without it.
If you’re looking for a way to practise mindfulness, you can try this activity where a registered dietitian will talk you through the process of mindfully eating chocolate!
As with any holiday, we may find ourselves eating more than usual, particularly if we’re staying at home. Portion control can help us to continue working towards our overall lifestyle goals without feeling left out or restricted. It’s much better to enjoy a smaller portion of something and savour it, than to deprive ourselves altogether.
So, here are our top tips on how to be mindful of our portion sizes:
Be mindful not to slip into the ‘all or nothing’ mindset over the Easter weekend. Even if you might be indulging in chocolate and other occasional foods, you can still be building balanced meals that nourish your body at the same time.
One of the most important things to realise when implementing healthy lifestyle changes is that it’s ok to experience a slip-up occasionally. Try to avoid giving up on all your healthy habits as a result of indulging over the Easter period. Instead, start by setting some small goals to help you get back into your healthy routine. This might be aiming to plan your meals for the following week, drink 8 glasses of water each day, and practise 10 minutes of meditation.
It’s important to also be kind and accepting towards yourself, especially during this time when many of our emotions are heightened and we might be separated from friends and family.
Most of the time, guilt around food is related to ‘shoulds’ and strict rules which we think we ought to be following. For example, that we should be eating certain foods, that we shouldn’t be eating chocolate, that we should cook a fresh meal from scratch every day, and so on. And every time we ‘break the rule’, we feel guilty about it. So, what can we do to stop this?
Firstly, ditch the ‘shoulds’. Every time you catch yourself saying any sentence that has a ‘should’ in it, reformulate in a non-guilty way. For example:
‘I should drink more water and less fizzy drinks’
Result: you feel guilty and nothing good can happen from this. Stop and reformulate like this:
‘I want to drink more water and less fizzy drinks’
Result: you’re out of guilt mode and you’re setting a positive intention. Or, reformulate like this:
‘Today, I am going to start drinking more water and less fizzy drinks’
Result: you’re in action mode. This will remove the guilt and will put you in a place where you can really move forward in a positive, self-respecting way.
Secondly, stop categorising foods as ‘bad’ or ‘treat’, which then encourages the idea that you can’t have it. Instead, they’re just foods to eat in moderate amounts, mindfully, and less often. Living a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and moderation, rather than restriction.
Despite the fact that we’re all in social isolation for Easter this year, we have a few ways you could keep the day fun and exciting, while still staying on track with your health goals: