Easter is here, bringing with it irresistible chocolate, Simnel cake, hot cross buns and goodness knows what else. Temptation is everywhere and it is so very easy to let go of your good habits and intentions, particularly at the moment when we are all locked down and looking for ways to lift our spirits, keep ourselves busy – a spot of Easter baking perhaps? - have fun and give ourselves a treat, or two, or three. In these circumstances, bingeing seems almost inevitable.
Chocolate of course is available all year round. The trouble arises during special occasions and festive seasons like this one when there is simply too much of it on offer, leading to endless enticement, gobbling up far too much in one go and then feeling miserable because of the over-indulgence. The worst part of bingeing is the sensation of guilt and failure which comes after the event.
So let’s change our mindset and accept that Easter does and will mean chocolate indulgence on one level or another – and let’s see how we can make the best of it.
1. Discourage family and friends from buying chocolate for you. This puts you back in control of how much of it you eat.
2. Choose the darker chocolate eggs or chocolate selection. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the less room there is for sugar. Aim for over 70%.
3. Quality is very important. Darker eggs from higher quality suppliers, like Green & Black’s, contain less sugar and will therefore wreak less havoc with your blood sugar.
4. Don’t to eat too much in one go with the intention of getting ‘rid’ of the chocolate sooner. Eating a whole egg will lead to an energy crash later on, not to mention likely feelings of disappointment in yourself that you ’gave in’ or ‘failed’ with your healthy eating plan. Just have a modest amount of chocolate more regularly and try to cancel out the sugar rush by eating a small handful of nuts at the same time (protein slows the speed at which sugar enters the bloodstream).
5. Save Easter eggs for pudding. Eating chocolate on an empty stomach spikes blood sugar levels so enjoy yours after a protein and vegetable-based meal.
6. Plan in order to make the right choices. Avoid giving yourself the excuse that there was nothing else to eat! Ensure you have plenty of your usual healthy foods to hand.
7. Make sure your decision to eat chocolate is a conscious one. Along the lines of “some chocolate would be nice, but I choose not to have any right now" – under no circumstances take orders from an Easter egg or allow it to manipulate you! Choosing puts you back in control. Remember, the responsibility is YOURS. You are the one who puts food in your mouth and even if it sometimes feels as though it is out of your control, it never really is.
8. Consider that even the healthiest people over-indulge – but they don’t beat themselves up about it, they relax and savour it and just go back to eating normally afterwards.
9. Even after an Easter indulgence, you can still rescue the situation and stop it from turning into a binge and sabotaging all your good work. Simply tell yourself that it is over and done with, it is in the past and just choose to move on. Designate Easter as only ONE DAY (or two at the most) and avoid being on the roller-coaster for the rest of the month.
10. But most of all, enjoy the chocolate you do eat because the only way you can feel good in body and soul about it is to eat it consciously. Remember that small amounts of the best quality, dark chocolate have well researched and documented health benefits such as anti-ageing, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, and being packed with antioxidants and important minerals like iron, potassium, zinc and selenium. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine; the same chemical which your brain creates when you’re falling in love ….. So relax and enjoy because this Easter will certainly be one to remember!