Shiny Easter eggsHolidays can put a real strain on any diet or sensible eating plan. We all have a tendency to go into ‘holiday mode’ and focus on short-term pleasures rather than long-term gains.

‘Temptations’ are everywhere at Easter. Not only do we tend to eat and drink more with family and friends, but there are enough hot cross buns, chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies and chocolate bars around to send you into diabetic shock.

Yes, chocolate features heavily in the Easter holidays, but what is it about chocolate that means so much to us?

The magic power of chocolate

Well, since childhood we have been programmed to view chocolate and sweets as a reward. Our parents said things like “You’ve been a good girl, you can have some chocolate” or “Behave yourself or there’ll be no chocolate”.

This type of behaviour sets up the belief that, “if I’m good I get to eat chocolate”. In other words, we learnt that chocolate and sweets are a good thing.

But is chocolate such a good thing?

On the plus side, it does light up the pleasure centres of the brain. But what if it does more?

Many experts believe that eating refined sugar, which is the main ingredient in chocolate, actually poisons the body and is a major contributor, if not the cause, of diabetes. The evidence points to the fact that eating refined sugar poisons the pancreas.

Since the pancreas sits just below the stomach, you could liken eating an Easter egg to getting a punch in the stomach that damages your pancreas.

Put like that, chocolate Easter treats don’t sound like such a good thing, do they? Can you imagine how would you be viewed by your friends and family if you went around punching people in the stomach on Easter Sunday…?

Surviving Easter and still staying motivated to lose weight

Here are our top 5 tips for surviving the Easter holidays without ruining your weight loss goals.

  1. Plan to do things that make you feel good. Try to involve some form of exercise. It does not have to be sport, it can be games, going for a walk, visiting an attraction or even decorating (if you’re that way inclined). Anything that increases your heart rate for a while will release the feel good chemicals from your brain.
  2. Switch the focus away from chocolate. The magic of Easter for children is more in the fun and games with family, so rather than a chocolate hunt, why not switch to something else – e.g. Easter chicks, or party favours. And when offering kids a treat, why not try fresh fruit like strawberries or dried fruits, such as apples, apricots, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, banana chips, etc.
  3. Always keep in mind your long-term goal when tempted with sugary food or drink. Simply ask yourself, ‘does this help me achieve my goal or not?’ If you believed that by eating an Easter egg you would put on a stone in weight, would you do it? If the Easter holidays divert you from your long-term goal this could easily be a reality.
  4. Portion control is very important to general well being and never more so than with chocolate and sweets. Chocolate in itself is not good or bad, it’s just chocolate. If we disregard the idea that chocolate is a treat and deal with it the same way we would with any other type of food, it becomes much easier to eat it in moderation.
  5. Focus on family and friends that you enjoy being around. Allow them to be the high you were looking for in chocolate and sweets. Having a good laugh or a really fun night with friends releases far more of the good chemicals from the brain than chocolate ever could. So make sure you laugh a lot this Easter.

If you want some help to stay focussed over Easter (or help to pick up the pieces afterwards), why not take our DietAssist Challenge?