With supermarkets stocking chocolate eggs and hot cross buns since just after Christmas, we are given plenty of time to over indulge on sweet treats in celebration of Easter. A holiday that, in Australia at least, is firmly associated with eating vast quantities of chocolate, as well as being a time to eat, drink and celebrate a few days off, it can easily lead to an expanded waist line. To avoid gaining extra kilos over the Easter period, try these helpful hints.
1. Go for quality over quantity
If you are going to indulge, make it really worth it. Rather than buying a huge bag of poor quality eggs at a bargain price, treat yourself to something a little more expensive, higher quality and smaller. You may not get as much chocolate for your money, but what you do get will be far more enjoyable and you will eat far less of it. Make sure to take time to enjoy and savour your treat, rather than munching away whilst doing other things.
2. Share the chocolate (and the calories!)
If you are given, (or accidently buy too many), chocolates or other less healthy foods over Easter, share them with family and friends. This lightens the calorie load and avoids the pitfall of having tempting foods sitting round the house just waiting to be eaten. Your friends and family are not likely to mind helping you out!
3. Get moving
It’s normal to consume a few extra calories around holiday time, especially when, for most people, the holiday now centres on the giving and receiving of chocolate eggs. Counteract this extra energy intake by using the time of work to get active and burn some of it off. Go for a family walk, play back yard cricket or take the time you wouldn’t normally have for a long run or cycle.
Bear in mind that to burn off a crème egg would take about 45 minutes of fast walking and a large hot cross bun about 30 minutes of jogging. This may motivate you to move more and eat less!
4. Avoid bulk buying
Buying in bulk may seem like good value for money, but more often than not you will end up with more than you need and feel compelled to eat it to avoid wastage. Avoid this by buying smaller packets of eggs and hot cross buns and leaving bulk purchasing for healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
5. Fill up on nutritious foods
Just because it’s Easter doesn’t mean that you need to skip your regular healthy meals in favour of chocolate or less healthy foods. Eat plenty of vegetables at your main meal and include lean protein and whole grain carbohydrates. If having a barbeque or eating as a large group, offer to supply a healthy salad so you know there will be some healthy food available. Fill up on these lower calorie foods, leaving less room for high calorie treats.
6. Start the day right
Chocolate for breakfast might be every child’s (and quite a lot of adults), dream, however it is a good idea to start the day off in a healthy way as there is likely to be plenty of time for chocolate later on. Allow children one small egg, but try to sit down to a nutritious breakfast including fruit or vegetables, protein and whole grains to set everyone up for the day. A nutritious breakfast doesn’t mean it can’t be a special one- try whole grain pancakes with low fat yogurt and fresh fruit or poached eggs on toast with spinach, tomato and mushrooms for a welcome break to the normal quick cereal or vegemite on toast.
7. Look for alternative Easter treats and activities for kids
Although one Easter egg is fine, try not to get into the habit of buying vast quantities of eggs and other chocolate treats every year. Instead replace some of the chocolate with a non- food related treat, ideally one that will get them physically active such as a new football or outdoor toy. Stickers, books or other items that are being collected by a child are also popular. This applies for adults too. Why not skip the giant Easter egg this year and invest the money in something kinder to the waist line like a new healthy cookbook or a piece of clothing.
8. Indulge a little and avoid over eating
There is no need to completely avoid chocolate and other less healthy foods over the Easter season. Allow yourself a little of what you crave and enjoy it without guilt, as this is likely to reduce the chances of over eating later on. People who constantly deny themselves any form of treat often find they cave in and then go on an all-out binge as they feel they have already ruined their diet, so why not eat as much as possible.
9. Eat eggs as dessert
With all the chocolate going on at Easter, it is wise to make Easter treats the basis for dessert rather than adding extra high calories, fat and sugar foods to a meal. If you do serve an alternative dessert, opt for fresh fruit as a lower calorie nutritious option.
10. Avoid drinking too many calories
Easter get togethers are often accompanied not only by too much food but also by too many high calorie drinks. Alcohol, soft drinks and even juice can contribute a large quantity off excess energy that can lead to weight gain, so where possible choose water, or at least separate every alcoholic beverage with a glass of water or other low calorie drink. Drinking plenty of water also helps fill you up and leaves less room for excess chocolate!