When it comes to food, Easter is the sweetest time of the year. Easter and chocolate are two words that go hand in hand making it a prime time to consider your eating habits, especially if you like to enjoy the odd chocolate or two.
The dietitians at NAQ Nutrition would like to share their top tips for eating well over the Easter period.
1.Easter is one weekend.
Celebrate on those days only. This is important to keep in mind in the lead up to Easter as chocolate eggs and hot cross buns are for sale many months in advance. If these items are making their way into your trolley regularly before the Easter weekend, then it’s likely that extra kilojoules may have been added to your diet, increasing your chance of weight gain.
2. Quality over quantity.
Enjoying a small piece of good quality chocolate instead of a large amount of basic chocolate will be better for your waistline. Make an effort to buy smaller eggs instead of large ones. Once a large egg is broken, it’s very tempting to keep nibbling until the only evidence is a sprinkling of tiny chocolate crumbs in silver foil! While many of us will succumb to this temptation at Easter time, keep in mind that the kilojoules in a large Easter egg can amount to a whole day’s intake of food because of the high sugar and fat content.
3. The darker the better but moderation is still needed.
Choosing dark chocolate over milk chocolate is a better choice as it has a higher percentage of cocoa (70-85%) which is a rich source of antioxidants. People often find that a smaller portion of dark chocolate eaten slowly leaves them satisfied as it has a stronger taste. However, do remember that dark chocolate is still high in kilojoules, so keep to small portions.
4. No chocolate on an empty stomach!
Eating a generous amount of chocolate on an empty stomach will spike your blood sugar levels and play havoc with your hunger and energy levels. For adults and children, it is important to start Easter morning with a healthy breakfast based around protein and carbohydrates – e.g. baked beans or a boiled egg on wholegrain toast or porridge. This will give your body a good grounding for the rest of the day.
5. Get creative with your gifts.
Chocolate is the standard gift at Easter but it doesn’t have to be. Your recipients are likely to be equally delighted with non-edible gifts such as pyjamas and colouring-in books for kids. For adults, potted herbs, scented candles, a DVD, hand cream or a novel can make a great gift.
6. Try a Secret Easter Bunny with family and friends.
If you are still overwhelmed by the amount of chocolate that you receive over the Easter period, it may be worth suggesting to family and friendship groups that you have a Secret Easter Bunny system (similar to Secret Santa). This means you buy an egg for just one person and will receive only one yourself. This will save money and limit the chocolate eggs you eat!
7. Stock your fridge with healthy snacks.
If your fridge is well stocked with nutritious foods over the Easter long weekend, then it is more likely that you will make better snack choices. Hard boiled eggs, wholegrain crackers with vegie based dips (hummus, beetroot) and fruit are all good options.
8. Bring a healthy plate.
If you are attending celebrations at someone else’s place over the Easter period, bring along a healthy plate to share. This will ensure you have a healthy option to go to. Ideas includevegie sticks and hummus, tasty salads like pumpkin, feta and spinach or a seasonal fruit platter.
9. Get active.
Consider this – a standard hot cross bun spread with butter takes the average adult just over 1 hour to burn off by walking. A large 200g chocolate egg takes over 3.5 hours to walk off. Plan some activity into the weekend by organising an after lunch walk or a social game of cricket, touch football or even Frisbee throwing in the backyard.
Have a happy and healthy Easter!