A Dietitian's Advice for Easter
First of all, Easter is a time for everyone to enjoy a few days off of work and have a little fun! So don't let the fear of 'gaining weight' stop you from enjoying yourself this Easter. Eating food is all a part of the celebration, but sometimes it can all be a little overwhelming. So here are my top 5 tips to help you stay on your health track this Easter:
1. The first thing you want to know about would probably be the chocolate eggs. As a promoter of everything in moderation, I say you can have the chocolate eggs, but don't let it take over your whole diet. Try the following tips:
Buy quality, not quantity - instead of having a large amount of cheap chocolate, buy the higher quality types but less amounts. Buying high quantities may seem like good value for money, but you will probably end up with more than you need and feel compelled to eat it to avoid wastage.
Enjoy chocolate mindfully - just because it's there, doesn't mean you have to eat it. Be cautious of your cravings, are you really desperate to eat it or is it just convenient and readily available to have?
Choose dark over milk or white chocolate - dark chocolate is packed full of nutritious goodness, like antioxidants that help fight off the bad guys in our body. If you don't enjoy dark chocolate, choose milk chocolates with no added sugar.
Sharing is caring - if you've been given an Easter basket full of goodies, take it to work and share it around with your colleagues. This way you don't feel compelled to eat it all.
Ask your friends and family to avoid buying you sweets and chocolates for easter. Simple, yet effective!
2. To avoid feeling peckish throughout the day, have a proper breakfast. My go-to simple breakfasts that pack essential nutrients are: avocado on wholegrain toast with eggs, or overnight oats soaked in milk with sliced fruit. Having these types of breakfasts will keep you full and will help stop you from grazing on less-nutritious options throughout the day.
3. Increase your daily exercise - try some incidental exercise such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking your car a few more meters away than usual. Exercise will help increase your metabolic rate, meaning your body can efficiently use up the food you've eaten and therefore avoid storing it as fat. This is especially helpful if you find yourself over-indulging sometimes.
4. Do not skip meals. I repeat: DO NOT SKIP MEALS. Do not think for a second that "oh, I shouldnt have lunch today because I know there will be chocolate at home so I'll save my appetite 'til then" - NO NO NO NO! Never think that way - you're only setting yourself up for a disaster! If you leave yourself going hungry, your body will ask for anything high in sugar, and you will find yourself reaching for everything in sight (I don't know about you, but everything in my sight at the moment is chocolate eggs and hot cross buns!) Make sure that having nutritious meals are your first priority - fill up on lean protein, good sources of fats and grains. This will ensure your body is getting all the essential nutrients it needs, which will result in less cravings and many less episodes of over-indulging.
5. Last but not least, you can easily avoid gaining a few kg's by steering clear of high-energy drinks. Alcohol, soft drinks and juices can contribute to weight gain, so try to fill up on water as a first choice of drink. When drinking alcohol, go for spirits mixed with diet-drinks or soda water with lemon/lime and try to avoid pre-mixed drinks and sugary cocktails.
Whatever you decide to do this Easter, my final advice would be to just enjoy yourself. Food is wonderful, it is not our enemy and we should not treat it as one. Eat food for health and nutrition, but don't forget to eat it for pleasure aswell.
Have a safe and Happy Easter!
Joyce Haddad, Director of A Dietitian's Mission, is an Adelaide based Dietitian/Nutritionist and Master Personal Trainer with a passion for health and wellbeing. ADM aims to help the public make informed and realistic nutritional choices and ensure everyone has a healthy relationship with their body and with food.